Conservative AM Nick Ramsay may sue again over party suspension

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Nick Ramsay
Image caption,
Nick Ramsay was released without charge by Gwent Police

A Tory AM suspended after he was arrested and released without charge in January is considering further legal action against his own party.

Lawyers for Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay claim his suspension from the Conservatives is unlawful.

It would be the second time he has gone to court to challenge disciplinary action against him, if it goes ahead.

The Conservative Party was asked for comment.

The statement from Mr Ramsay's lawyer Tim Gir came in response to a senior grassroots Tory who claimed Mr Ramsay has ignored his local association since the events of New Year's Day.

Mr Ramsay was suspended from his party and the Conservative group in the assembly after his arrest.

The politician took his leader in the assembly, Paul Davies, to court to challenge his suspension as a Tory group AM.

Mr Ramsay was reinstated and the two sides settled out of court - but that appears to have had no impact on his suspension from his membership of the Conservative party itself, which is a separate matter and remains in place.

In a recent BBC Wales interview Mr Ramsay accused other party members of a conducting a "witch hunt" against him over accusations of improper behaviour.

The Monmouth AM had dismissed claims from Tory sources that his behaviour after drinking has led to complaints.

Monmouth Conservative Association chairman Nick Hackett-Pain said he hoped Mr Ramsay's remarks "were not aimed at the Conservative party locally, because such claims would be untrue".

Mr Ramsay was re-selected as the Conservative assembly candidate for Monmouth last year.

The association chairman said if Mr Ramsay remains suspended for an indefinite period "we are going to have to think again".

Image source, Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
Image caption,
Nick Ramsay was elected as an AM for Monmouth in 2007

The Conservative Party said in January that Mr Ramsay remained suspended pending an investigation. It has not commented further on the matter.

Mr Ramsay's lawyer Tim Gir told BBC Wales: "The suspension was purportedly based around events of 1 January 2020.

"Not only was Mr Ramsay exonerated, but more importantly he was totally innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever.

"We are still in the process of compiling information and details; his position is that there is likely to be a claim against the police for unlawful arrest and false imprisonment."

Mr Gir said the party had "given no reason for his suspension continuing therefore they cannot complain by his lack of engagement with members of a party (that is on the face of it) acting with malice".

The Monmouth AM has been advised "not to engage with anybody until he has been given reasons for his continuing suspension by his lawyers," Nick Ramsay's lawyer said.

"Unless this matter is resolved properly, fairly and in accordance with natural justice Mr Ramsay has been advised that any meeting should not be informal.

"Mr Ramsay has been advised that at this present moment his continued suspension from the Party is unlawful and may necessitate a new set of proceedings before the court."

'We've never received a reply'

The statement was released after the BBC approached Mr Ramsay in response to claims from Mr Hackett-Pain that the Monmouth association had no contact with the AM since the arrest.

Mr Hackett-Pain said the association had written to Mr Ramsay "offering him help and support" following his arrest.

"We've never received a reply from him to that letter," he said.

"I also bumped into him one day and asked him to come and meet with the association officers. This, he rejected."

"I think any politician needs to work with their local party who has selected them and campaigned for them," Mr Hackett-Pain said.

"The fact that he has so far ignored us over the last couple of months is disappointing."

'Unfortunate and curious'

In response Mr Gir said: "It is both unfortunate and curious that Mr Hackett-Pain is openly trying to criticise Mr Ramsay for not engaging with the party when he knows there is a suspension in place without reason."

It is understood that the suspension was imposed by the party centrally, and not by the local party.

Gwent Police declined to comment.