Wales politics

Ross England: PM told to sack Tory candidate in trial row

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Media captionBoris Johnson said he could not comment because of ongoing legal proceedings - although proceedings have concluded in the case.

The prime minister has refused to be drawn on whether he should sack Tory assembly candidate Ross England.

Mr England was selected by the Conservatives eight months after he was accused by a crown court judge of deliberately sabotaging a rape trial which collapsed.

Boris Johnson said it would be "inappropriate for me to comment on ongoing legal proceedings".

Legal proceedings have concluded in the case.

The defendant, James Hackett, was later convicted following a retrial. Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens said Mr England's selection was "unbelievable".

Stephen Crabb, a Welsh Tory MP said: "Clearly someone needs to look into it."

Ross England was giving evidence in a rape trial in April 2018 when he made claims about the victim's sexual history, which the complainant denies.

In December 2018 he was selected for the Conservatives in the Vale of Glamorgan seat.

Image caption Ross England is standing for the Welsh Conservatives in the 2021 assembly election

Mr England has worked for Alun Cairns, the Welsh Secretary and Conservative Vale of Glamorgan MP.

At prime minister's questions in the Commons Ms Stevens said: "Yesterday it was reported that a former staff member of the secretary of state for Wales, Ross England, had in the words of a trial judge single-handedly and deliberately sabotaged a rape trial by referring to the victim's sexual history against the judge's instructions.

"The trial had to be stopped, and started again from scratch and the defendant was convicted.

"Unbelievably the party then selected Mr England as a Welsh Assembly candidate with the Secretary of State's endorsement. Is the prime minister going to sack Mr England?"

In response, Mr Johnson said: "It would be inappropriate for me to comment on ongoing legal proceedings."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ross England has worked for Alun Cairns in his constituency office

The Conservative party has been repeatedly asked for comment by BBC Wales.

Welsh Conservative chairman Byron Davies and Welsh Conservative director Richard Minshull have been approached and BBC Wales has contacted Conservative Party press officers about the story.

They are yet to provide a reply.

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Mr Crabb said: "I don't know all the details of it but clearly there needs to be some kind of process to look at these allegations and make a decision about it.

"It's with cases like this that it's really important for the party in London and in Cardiff to show that it's got a clear process for handling complaints.

"If a complaint does get made about Mr England it is important that we show there's a fair process for adjudicating on that."

Earlier on Wednesday, former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said Mr England should be deselected.

"This whole case and the actions of the Tories in this absolutely stinks," she said.

"Ross England should be sacked as a candidate now and it would do no harm for the Tories to understand our strength of feeling."

Image caption Former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said the action of the Tories "stinks"

Giving evidence in the April 2018 trial Mr England made claims that he had had a casual sexual relationship with the complainant, which she denies.

The trial judge in the case, Stephen John Hopkins QC, had earlier made clear that evidence of the sexual history of the victim was inadmissible.

He went on to say to Mr England: "Why did you say that? Are you completely stupid?"

Mr England said that he thought the question was about his relationship with the woman. Replying, His Honour Judge Hopkins said it was not: "It was quite clear what the question was."

The judge then said: "You have managed singlehanded, and I have no doubt it was deliberate on your part, to sabotage this trial".

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