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Nathan Gill 'very disappointed' and Farage criticism 'irrelevant' - Neil Hamilton

Neil Hamilton has rebuffed suggestions that his party is divided over his appointment today as UKIP Wales's new group leader.

He said former group leader and Wales party leader Nathan Gill was "obviously very disappointed" but that they would continue to work together well. He also said that UKIP's UK leader Nigel Farage's comments today that his appointment was "unjust and a deep act of betrayal" were irrelevant. Here is Andrea Byrne's full interview with him:

Welsh Conservative leader: 'I still have the full backing of my party'

Andrew RT Davies says he has the unanimous backing of the Conservative party in Wales to continue to lead it in the Assembly, despite election disappointment.

There'd been speculation that he would step down or face a challenge after the Conservatives lost three seats in the Senedd and failed to win other targets.

He's been telling our Political Editor Adrian Masters that he asked AMs, MPs and party activists if he should continue to lead or step down. Here's the interview in full:

Neil Hamilton is UKIP's new group leader

UKIP Wales has confirmed former conservative MP Neil Hamilton has been chosen as group leader of the party.

Neil Hamilton is the group leader of the seven UKIP AMs. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Under party rules, UK leader Nigel Farage appoints the party's Welsh leader - currently Nathan Gill - but the group leader is a separate post.

Mr Hamilton was understood to hold the support of at least three newly-elected UKIP Assembly Members.

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UKIP's Assembly leader to be announced

The leader of UKIP in the Assembly is to be announced later today, following a meeting of its members.

Credit: ITV News / PA Archive

It's understood the former Conservative MP for Tatton turned UKIP AM Neil Hamilton is the front runner for the position.

The 67-year-old year old is reported to have the support of three fellow members, thought to be Gareth Bennett, Caroline Jones and Michelle Brown.

Under party rules UK leader Nigel Farage appoints the party's Welsh leader - currently Nathan Gill - but the group leader is a separate post.

An announcement is expected before 6PM.

  1. Nick Powell

Melding won't stand for Presiding Officer

The Conservative AM David Melding, who was Deputy Presiding Officer in the last Assembly, has ruled himself out of standing to succeed Dame Rosemary Butler as Presiding Officer.

Assembly rules require that the roles of Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officer are shared between the Government and Opposition. Which opposition party loses one its AMs to a politically neutral role will have a significant impact on the balance of power in the Senedd.

After much soul searching I have come to realise that I am at my best as one of life’s lieutenants. For this reason I do not believe that I am the right person to lead the National Assembly through its next stage of development. I am very grateful to family, friends and colleagues who have given me such generous support and provided me the space to make this decision.

Consequently,I will not seek nomination to become the Assembly’s Presiding Officer.

I look forward to making a full contribution to the work of the 5th Assembly and in particular initiatives to strengthen Welsh democracy and the efficiency of public services.

– David Melding AM

David Melding's decision brings other names into play. One possibility is that Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, who was Presiding Officer in the first three Assemblies, will return to the post. He has often proved a troublesome backbencher for Plaid Leader Leanne Wood but ultimately it's a decision for all AMs, who will vote in a secret ballot if there's more than one candidate.

The sole remaining Liberal Democrat AM, Kirsty Williams, could be a popular choice but if she became Presiding Officer, her party would lose its voice in the Senedd.

Alun Michael to return to South Wales Police post

Alun Michael will return as South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner. It means the four positions in Wales are now divided up equally between Plaid Cymru and Labour:

"I'd like to offer my congratulations to Alun Michael and Jeff Cuthbert for their superb victories in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections. I know they will be brilliant representatives for their areas and they will work hard to keep their communities safe and secure."

– Carwyn Jones AM
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