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  1. ITV Report

'Sargeant got me to question First Minister' -Tory AM

Conservative AM Darren Millar has revealed that former minister Carl Sargeant asked him to question the First Minister about bullying in the Welsh Government in 2014.

Mr Millar told the Senedd that after much soul-searching he felt a moral obligation to speak out.

Darren Millar making his personal statement in the Senedd. Credit: Senedd TV

He said he had based his questions on hand-written drafts provided by the late Carl Sargeant and tabled them once the former minister had told him that a complaint about bullying had been made.

Mr Millar said he would not name the individual identified by Carl Sargeant but that there was no accusation of bullying against the First Minister himself.

I had a private conversation with Carl in early October 2014, away from the National Assembly building. During that conversation Carl told me that he was unhappy, because there was bullying going on within the Welsh Government, which was coming from an individual in the First Minister's office and that this was taking a toll on him personally along with others.

I will not be naming the individual who Carl identified to me today, but I wish to make it absolutely clear, at this point, that at no time did Carl in his discussions with me ever accuse the First Minister himself of bullying. I offered to help, although I felt powerless to do so. Carl responded by thanking me and said that he would think about my offer and come back to me.

Around two weeks later, on 22 October 2014, Carl approached me in the Members' tea room during Plenary with a handwritten note containing draft questions for me to consider tabling to the First Minister. He explained that he hoped that the tabling of the questions would be sufficient to prompt internal Welsh Government action by the First Minister to address the bullying problem. I chose to redraft the questions slightly and I shared these privately with Carl. He was happy with the re-drafts but he asked me not to table the questions immediately. Instead, he requested that I hold off until he spoke to me again about the matter.

During the first week of November 2014, Carl indicated to me that the time was now right for me to table the questions as a complaint had, indeed, been made to the First Minister about the conduct of a special adviser. I subsequently tabled the questions on 4 November 2014, and the answers that were provided by the First Minister are now a matter of public record. Once I had received the written answers I passed them on to Carl before they were published on the Assembly website. He was surprised and disappointed by the First Minister's answers and resigned himself to the situation continuing.

– Darren Millar AM, making a personal statement in the Senedd

Carwyn Jones has agreed to an independent investigation into whether he broke the ministerial case when he denied in his answers to Mr Millar that he knew of any allegations of bullying.

Mr Sargeant was found dead last month. He apparently took his own life after being sacked from the Welsh Government following allegations of inappropriate conduct towards three women.

Darren Millar added in his statement to AMs that Carl Sargeant was a loyal member of the Welsh Government and a loyal member of the Labour Party, who took his Cabinet duties and collective responsibility seriously. Mr Millar said that it was out of his loyalty to the Welsh Government and the party that he loved that he wanted the issues to be addressed.

A Welsh Government source has said Darren Millar's statement will not affect its position on how the First Minister responded to the questions about bullying allegations, as Carwyn Jones has already referred himself to the independent investigator James Hamilton. Mr Millar said he wants his statement to be considered as evidence by Mr Hamilton's inquiry.