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  1. ITV Report

Family of Carl Sargeant question independence of inquiry

The family of Carl Sargeant has criticised the Welsh First Minister's decision to ask a top official to begin setting up an independent inquiry to examine his handling of the case.

Carwyn Jones believes a senior QC should carry out work to examine his "actions and decisions" in relation to the former assembly member, who was found dead on Tuesday.

But Mr Sargeant's family said the decision to ask the Permanent Secretary to begin preparatory work means the probe will not be truly independent.

In response to the statement made by the First Minister and to reiterate the family's original request, the inquiry must be established by a body that is fully independent of Welsh Government.

The Permanent Secretary reports directly to the First Minister and is therefore not independent.

We believe that a truly independent body must also be responsible for agreeing the terms of reference and appointing the chair and secretariat for the inquiry.

– Family statement

Mr Sargeant, 49, is understood to have taken his own life four days after being removed from his role as cabinet secretary for communities and children and suspended from the Labour party over allegations of "unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping".

A spokesman for the First Minister said Mr Jones agrees there should be an independent inquiry, and that "it would be proper to ask a senior QC to lead that work."

To ensure this happens separately from his office, the First Minister has asked the Permanent Secretary to begin preparatory work for this inquiry, and to make contact with the family to discuss the terms of reference and the identity of the QC.

It is our understanding that such an inquiry should not take place before the outcome of a coroner's inquest but we will take further advice on this matter.

– Spokesman for the First Minister

Mr Jones had been under mounting pressure to launch an independent inquiry, with Mr Sargeant's family adding to the criticism shortly before the First Minister's announcement.

Mr Sargeant's family said there had been "serious failings" in the way the situation was handled.

In a statement released through solicitors, Mr Sargeant's family said an inquest into his death would not be able to establish the full picture.

An independent inquiry will ask all the questions that need to be asked and have not been answered and will determine the reasons for the serious failings in following the correct procedures, practices and protocols, and the reasons for the complete abdication of responsibility and duty of care that was owed to Carl.

– Family statement

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