Alun Cairns refuses to personally apologise to rape victim following resignation

The former Welsh Secretary has refused to personally apologise to a rape victim in a trial which collapsed after a former aide of his was accused of sabotaging it.

Alun Cairns resigned from government earlier this week after allegations he knew about his former aide's role in the trial's collapse before endorsing him as an assembly candidate.

In an interview with ITV Wales' James Crichton-Smith, Mr Cairns said he "fully supports" the party's apology, but did not apologise personally.

Ross England, who has now been suspended from the party, was due to stand as a candidate for the 2021 Welsh Assembly elections.

Mr England was thrown out of court after appearing as a witness at the trial of James Hackett in April 2018. It had been agreed there could be no mention of the sexual history of the victim. However, Mr England went on to tell 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."

Mr Cairns resigned on Wednesday after an e-mail obtained by the BBC questioned his knowledge about Mr England's actions during the trial prior to endorsing him as an assembly candidate.

Mr Cairns' knowledge of his former aide's role in the collapse of a rape trial has been questioned

"This is a really sensitive case I have taken seriously throughout. I fully support the party's apology and explanation to the victim and it's absolutely right that the candidate [Ross England] has stood down", Mr Cairns told ITV News.

"It is important to understand I have had no role or association with the court in any way. I have stood aside as Secretary of State so that the Cabinet Office have all of the facts so they can make a judgement and I hope people will allow due process to continue."

Asked if it was right for him to still be a candidate in the general election, Mr Cairns said: "When people know all of the facts and that's what the Cabinet Office will do, people can then make a judgement. This is not about trial by media."

He said he "supported the victim throughout" and added it is a "complex case".

"The party has apologised and expressed sympathy. I strongly support what the party has said but it is right there is a due process."