Wales politics

Carl Sargeant's death: The correspondence

Letter

The family of Carl Sargeant have released correspondence sent between the former minister's solicitors and the Labour Party before his death.

It constitutes both an email, with attached letter, sent to Labour from Mr Sargeant's solicitors on Monday this week, and an email sent by Labour to the solicitors on the day Mr Sargeant was sacked.

What follows is the bulk of what was released to the media.

On 6 November, Mr Sargeant's solicitor Huw Bowden emailed Sam Matthews, head of disputes at the Labour Party in London, at 16:48.

He wrote: "I write further to our telephone conversation on Friday and the letter Carl received by email on Friday to which I provide a letter in response. I would be grateful if you would acknowledge safe receipt.

"The understanding given to Carl and I on Friday was that you would now be dealing with the investigation and indeed a case number and investigations officer had been allocated to the case. To date neither Carl or I have heard from your investigations officer.

"Despite this the First Minister has felt able to conduct interviews with the BBC. In those interviews he has indicated he became 'aware of a number of incidents at the beginning of last week'. He says 'I asked my office to speak to those women involved who had provided detail of those incidents. As a result of those conversations I felt I had no choice but to refer the matter to the party'.

"In the light of the correspondence with Mr Sargeant on Friday this is clearly prejudicing what is allegedly an independent enquiry by your office.

"It would seem that already a large number of people have spoken to the complainant or complainants yet we still have received no disclosure of the complaint or complainants.

"On Friday the First Minister of Wales advised our client he could not provide details of the complaint or complainants other than that his special advisor Matt Greenough had spoken to the complainant or complainants to verify the complaint."

The email added: "We would ask that a full and complete log of contact with the witnesses be maintained, that the details of the complaints be disclosed and the content of our letter addressed as a matter of urgency."

The attached letter reads:

"Dear Sam,

"Re: Notice of administrative suspension from holding office or representing the Labour Party (and from the National Assembly Labour Party)

"Further to your telephone conversation with our Mr Bowden and Mr Sargeant on Friday 3rd November, as you are aware we have been formally instructed by Mr Sargeant in relation to the administrative decision to suspend him from the Labour Party and the National Assembly Party.

"We understand a decision was taken initially by the First Minister of Wales Mr Carwyn Jones on Friday 3rd November 2017 to dismiss him from his job as cabinet secretary. Mr Sargeant then received an email from Louise Magee, General Secretary of the Welsh Labour Party at 14.40 enclosing a letter from you dated 3rd November 2017. It is to this letter that we respond on his behalf. We also refer to the telephone conversation with Mr Sargeant and our Mr Bowden on 3rd November 2017 as referred to above and your email to Mr Sargeant and Mr Bowden received at 16.36 on 3rd November 2017.

"We would make it clear at the outset that our client categorically denies any allegation that he has acted in a manner that is either prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the party. We are led to believe the allegations concern conduct that you described as our client having acted towards others in such a way as alleged to be 'unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping'. We make it clear that any such allegations are categorically denied.

"We would request immediate details as to the nature of the allegations that have been made against our client to enable him both to defend himself and to be satisfied as to the legitimacy and transparency of the procedure conducted upon receipt of the complaint.

"We would request information surrounding when, by whom and in what circumstances, were the complaint or complaints received. Was there one or more complaint? Were the complaints all received at the same time or on separate occasions and if so when?

"We also request details as to who received the complain on behalf of the Labour Party and how the complaint was dealt with upon its receipt. Was there an immediate investigation of those complaints and if so what was the outcome of that investigation?

"Upon review of the timescale for the progress of your investigation, the laying of charges and any hearing, we are gravely concerned that further delay will severely prejudice him. There will clearly be time needed to speak to witnesses of fact. In these circumstances we would require an urgent response to the above mentioned questioned raised. At the very least we would request the details of the names of the complainants and the dates, places and times that the allegations took place.

"When you spoke to our Mr Bowden on 3rd November you confirmed you were not aware of any parallel investigations being undertaken or having been contemplated. You confirmed that if you became aware of such parallel investigations then your investigation would be postponed then your investigation would be postponed and we would be notified immediately.

"With regard to the future progress of this case and the anticipated hearing, you mentioned a date of 16th January 2018. We would request the receipt of any charge and case papers at the earliest opportunity. We appreciate the papers should be received by Mr Sargeant no later than 6 weeks before the hearing (5th December 2017) however as the delay caused already has the potential to seriously prejudice our client we would ask for any papers to be forward to him as soon as possible.

"We are sure you appreciate the anxiety and distress being caused to our client particularly as he is yet to receive any details of the allegations that have led to the decisions taken to date by the First Minister of Wales, the Labour Party in Wales and the Labour Party head office. There is the potential requirement to interview a number of witnesses of fact and with the Christmas period intervening and the ongoing delay is both prejudicial to the preparation of our clients case but also to his physical and mental wellbeing.

"With regard to the potential hearing on 16th January 2018 we reserve the right to seek separate hearings if the allegations are separated in fact and time. We would also put you on notice that our client will be represented by solicitor and counsel at the hearing.

"Finally we seek clarification in relation to our client's legal costs. We would be grateful if you would confirm by return the liability of The Labour Party in that regard. Clearly our client faces serious and career threatening allegations. He maintains his innocence and indeed to date is unaware of the allegations made. As a committed member of the Labour Party he is anxious to ensure his name and the reputation of the Labour Party is preserved and as such he needs to be able to properly defend himself and accordingly we would seek confirmation that his reasonable legal fees will be covered.

"We look forward to hearing from you.

"Yours faithfully, Bowden Jones Solicitors."

The earliest correspondence of the set released was sent on 3 November from Mr Matthews to Mr Bowden, time-stamped 16:33.

It reads: "Hi Carl,

"Thank you for your call.

"If you have any further questions about the conduct of the Party's investigation, this is the best email address to reach me on.

"For you reference and as requested, I have attached Appendix 6 which outlines the process for a hearing of the NCC [National Constitutional Committee] - something which will occur if the NEC Disputes Panel refer the matter to the NCC.

"Rule 2.I.8, to which the allegations relate, was changed at Labour Party conference this year. The most up to date wording is as follows:

"No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party. The NEC shall take account of any codes of conduct currently in force and shall regard any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age; disability; gender reassignment or identity; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation as conduct prejudicial to the Party: these shall include but not be limited to incidents involving racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions, sexual harassment, bullying or any form of intimidation towards another person on the basis of a protected characteristic as determined by the NEC, wherever it occurs, as conduct prejudicial to the Party.

"Any dispute as to whether a member is in breach of the provisions of this subclause shall be determined by the NCC in accordance with Chapter 1 Clause IX above and the disciplinary rules and guidelines in Chapter 6 below.

"Where appropriate the NCC shall have regard to involvement in financial support for the organisation and/or the activities of any organisation declared ineligible for affiliation to the Party under Chapter 1.II.5 or 3.C above; or to the candidature of the members in opposition to an officially endorsed Labour Party candidate or the support for such candidature.

"The NCC shall not have regard to the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions except in any instance inconsistent with the Party's aims and values, agreed codes of conduct, or involving prejudice towards any protected characteristic."

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