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Conservative Assembly candidate Ross England who 'sabotaged' rape trial suspended by party

Credit: Vale Conservatives

A Conservative Assembly candidate who "sabotaged" a rape trial causing it to collapse has been suspended by the party.

Ross England, who will stand for the Conservatives in the Vale of Glamorgan in the 2021 Assembly election, was criticised by a judge at Cardiff Crown Court for his evidence at a trial in which someone he knew was accused of rape.

The court heard Mr England "sabotaged" the trial through a "deliberate" and "stupid" attempt to tell the jury about the victim's sexual history, a court heard.

The remarks were made during the trial in April 2018 but could not be reported until now because of an ongoing legal appeal.

During the trial Judge Stephen Hopkins QC told Mr England: "You have managed, singlehandedly, and I have no doubt it was deliberate on your part, to sabotage this trial.

"Mr England, as far as I am concerned, this matter so far as you are concerned isn’t ended. I shall be writing personal letters to people who are politically close to you and I hope they take appropriate action. Get out of my court."

On Wednesday, the Chairman of the Welsh Conservatives, Lord Davies of Gower, said: “Ross England has been suspended pending this matter being presented to the candidates committee.”

Labour MP Jo Stevens asked the prime minister during PMQs if Mr England was going to be sacked.

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The case had to be ended early and a retrial took place six months later

The court case in question had to be ended early and a retrial took place six months later, last October, when the victim had to go through the ordeal of giving evidence for a second time and the defendant, James Hackett, was found guilty and jailed for five years.

Mr England was a witness at the trial of Hackett, 31, from Kingston upon Thames, for rape in April last year.

Barristers for both the prosecution and defence had agreed there could be no mention of the sexual history of the victim, then aged 21.

Within minutes of taking his oath at the trial in April Mr England told the jury he had previously had a relationship with the victim.

In front of the jury Judge Hopkins asked Mr England why he made the comments about past relations with the victim. "Why did you say that? Are you completely stupid?" he said. Mr England responded: "I apologise."

When asked why he said it Mr England said he was answering the question.

The judge responded: “No it wasn’t. It was quite clear what the question was."

The judge said he did not believe the trial could go ahead, something described by prosecutor Ms Lewis as “extremely regrettable”.

Alun Cairns welcomed the selection of Mr England in December Credit: aluncairns.com

Despite the judge’s promise to write letters to call for "appropriate action" to be taken Mr England was selected as an Assembly candidate that December.

He was praised by his former boss, Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns, in a press release welcoming his selection and describing the pair as “friends and colleagues”.

Mr Cairns was asked whether he knew of the judge’s attack and why he congratulated Mr England on his selection. Mr Cairns said he could not disclose employment records and did not go beyond that.

In response Mr England said: "I was not told that anything had been ruled inadmissible prior to my testimony. I gave an honest answer, honouring the oath I took to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."