Ex-First Minister accused of being a liar at inquest into Carl Sargeant’s death

The former first minister of Wales has been accused of being a liar at the inquest into the death of politician Carl Sargeant.

Mr Sargeant, the Alyn and Deeside AM, was found hanged at his home in Connah’s Quay on November 7 2017, four days after he was sacked from his job as cabinet secretary for communities and children by then First Minister Carwyn Jones, after claims he had groped and touched women.

The inquest into Mr Sargeant’s death, which was adjourned in November, heard from Mr Jones for a second time on Monday about the support offered to Mr Sargeant (pictured) before his death.

The coroner’s court at Ruthin County Hall also heard from Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones, who contradicted Mr Jones’s evidence that she had a role in providing care and support for Mr Sargeant after he lost his post.

The court heard that since he first gave evidence, Mr Jones had provided a further statement in which he said, on reflection, he was not correct to tell the inquest he had spoken to Mrs Jones over the weekend between Mr Sargeant losing his cabinet role and his death.

He said: “That’s what I thought at the time, but after further thought and having looked at the transcript, I sought to clarify that.”

Leslie Thomas QC, representing Mr Sargeant’s wife Bernie and son Jack, suggested Mr Jones was “caught in a lie”.

Mr Jones, who stepped down as first minister last December, said: “Are you calling me a liar?”

Mr Thomas replied: “Yes I am. The untruth only came to light when the witness came forward and you were caught out in a lie.”

Mr Jones said: “Not at all.”

Senior coroner for North Wales (East and Central) John Gittins said: “Either you were mistaken in what you said to me or I was misled, and perhaps deliberately so, with a view to some type of PR that made your position somewhat more tenable.”

Mrs Jones said that on the night of the reshuffle in which Mr Sargeant lost his cabinet role she had received a text message from Mr Jones’s special adviser Matt Greenough, asking her to give Mr Sargeant “a bell” over the weekend as he had not taken the news well.

She told the inquest she had rung and messaged Mr Sargeant, but received no response until the Monday, the evening before his death.

In a text message to her which was read to the court, he said: “I still have no idea of the allegation detail, all we know is off the BBC what the First Minister briefed.

“Bastards. I’m telling no one again I’m thinking of running for First Minister.”

Mrs Jones said that the day after Mr Sargeant’s death she received a phone call from the First Minister.

She told the coroner’s court: “He said that he was going to say to the press that he had asked me to provide a caring role to Carl.

“I remember saying to him ‘don’t do that, that’s not what my understanding was’.”

Mr Jones said he had wanted to make Mrs Jones aware of what might be said.

He said it was “not some kind of cover story”.

He added: “I can’t remember the exact words, the conversation was about forewarning about what might happen.”

The inquest will continue on Tuesday, when Mr Sargeant’s wife and son are expected to give evidence.Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Family Handout / PA Wire.

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