Wales politics

Plaid Cymru gives McEvoy complaints to Standards Commissioner

Neil McEvoy
Image caption Neil McEvoy arriving at Plaid Cymru's spring conference in March

Plaid Cymru has passed on complaints made against AM Neil McEvoy to the assembly standards commissioner.

Some of those who made complaints have said they are unhappy the party did not ask them before making the decision.

They are also angry Plaid gave details of the complaints to Mr McEvoy before a formal investigation has begun.

The AM claimed he was being targeted by a "co-ordinated smear campaign". Plaid Cymru said it could not comment on "ongoing disciplinary procedures".

The South Wales Central AM was suspended from the Plaid Cymru group in the Welsh Assembly in September over claims he breached the party's rules.

He had previously been suspended from the group for two weeks in March after a tribunal ruled against him over claims that he bullied a Cardiff council officer.

Also in March, a separate internal inquiry was announced by Plaid Cymru after accusations were made against Mr McEvoy on social media.

Six months later Plaid's disciplinary panel met to discuss whether there was any basis to further investigate three complaints submitted.

Some of the complainants have told BBC Wales of their frustration that the process has taken so long and lacked transparency.

They are now angry that Plaid has transferred their complaints to the assembly's standards commissioner without asking for their consent.

Image caption Neil McEvoy and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood at the party's local election campaign launch in March

New guidelines published in November, with the agreement of all the party leaders in the assembly, said: "We will refer any allegations of breaches of the code in future to the commissioner. In all cases, this will be subject to the complainant's consent."

It is expected that the assembly's standards commissioner, retired High Court Judge Sir Roderick Evans, will investigate the complaints.

The new guidelines said "all complaints against an assembly member will be investigated by the commissioner".

The Assembly Commission said it would not confirm whether or not it had received any complaints against a member.

The UK Parliament standards commissioner does publish a list of the names of MPs being investigated.

When undertaking a preliminary investigation, the assembly's standards commissioner guidelines said: "The commissioner may contact the complainant to elicit more details and to ascertain whether or not he or she is willing for his or her name to be released to the member complained of and the committee."

One of the complainants has told BBC Wales they are considering making a complaint against Plaid Cymru to the Information Commissioner's Office for releasing the details of the complaint to Mr McEvoy without consent.

Mr McEvoy has previously vowed to defend himself against "untrue allegations".

On Friday, he told BBC Wales: "I issued a subject access request to Plaid which forced the hand of those handling the complaints.

"The public will see the complaints were part of a coordinated smear campaign designed to stop me asking questions about fundamental matters affecting Welsh democracy."

Mr McEvoy also said he believed the complaints would be dropped because they had been submitted to the commissioner more than 12 months after the alleged events.

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said on Friday: "We cannot comment on matters regarding ongoing disciplinary procedures."

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