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Welsh Conservatives apologise to victim following collapse of rape trial

Credit: John Giles/PA Images

The Welsh Conservatives have said they are "deeply sorry" about an Assembly candidate's involvement in the collapse of a rape trial and the "distress this must have caused".

Ross England was selected as a candidate for the 2021 Welsh Assembly elections after a judge criticised him for allegedly sabotaging a rape trial. Mr England has now been suspended from the party.

Alun Cairns resigned from his government role as Welsh Secretary on Wednesday following allegations he lied about his knowledge of Mr England's actions.

The Conservative party have apologised for the Credit: Vale Conservatives

In a statement, the Welsh Conservatives have said they are "deeply sorry for the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the trial" that involved a party member.

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

In the statement, a Welsh Conservatives spokeswoman said, "We are deeply sorry for the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the trial and the deep distress this must have caused the victim, her family and friends."

Mr England has been suspended from the party and a full investigation is under way.

We are proud to support the many women who work for or engage with our party and employ a strict ethical code for staff and volunteers as part of our human resource strategy.

– Welsh Conservative Party Spokeswoman
Former Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns was Ross England's boss. Credit: aluncairns.com

Mr England was a witness at the trial of James Hackett, 31, from Kingston upon Thames, for rape in April 2018.

At the trial, it had been agreed there could be no mention of the sexual history of the victim, then aged 21. 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 England has said in response that he "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."

Alun Cairns, former MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, resigned on Wednesday amidst allegations he knew about Mr England's actions during the trial prior to recommending him as a candidate for the 2021 Assembly elections.

Mr Cairns resigned as Secretary of State for Wales but has not withdrawn from standing in the upcoming General Election as a candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan.

Alun Cairns resigned as Secretary of State for Wales on Wednesday 6 November. Credit: Alun Cairns
Alun Cairns welcomed the selection of Mr England in December.

Mr Cairns claimed he had no knowledge of the trial but BBC Wales say that he was made aware of it in an email before Mr England's selection.

Mr England was selected as an Assembly candidate in December, eight months after the trial.

The now suspended member was also praised by Mr Cairns in a press release welcoming his selection, and described the pair as “friends and colleagues”.

The Conservative Party launched their election campaign on the same day of Alun Cairn's resignation. Credit: PA Images

Following Mr Cairn's resignation from government, Welsh Conservatives leader Paul Davies thanked Mr Cairns for his service and said, “I am sorry to see Alun resign today as the Secretary of State for Wales however, under the circumstances this was the right decision for him. Alun has rightly stated that he will cooperate fully with any investigations."