A Senedd Member has criticised a disciplinary process which is likely to lead to a three week suspension without pay over allegations that he was “physically and verbally aggressive” to a fellow MS.
The Standards Committee said that the incident involving the independent MS Neil McEvoy was “a severe breach of the Code of Conduct. To be physically and verbally aggressive to another individual is not acceptable in any walk of life, but particularly not by those who are meant to lead by example.”
But Neil McEvoy, who leads the Welsh National Party, says he wasn't allowed to call witnesses nor was CCTV footage which he says bolsters his defence considered as evidence.
The committee came to its decision after considering a report by the former Standards Commissioner, Sir Roderick Evans, who completed his investigation before resigning in November 2019. His resignation came after he accused Neil McEvoy of ''illegally'' recording confidential conversations between him and his staff.
Labour MS Mick Antoniw told the Standards Commissioner that in May 2019 Neil McEvoy had approached him and been “both physically and verbally aggressive towards him.” He said the conduct continued inside the Senedd Siambr.
Sir Roderick concluded that the incident “went well beyond what is an acceptable manifestation of inter-personal tension. Descriptions of his conduct reveal a level of aggression that would not be acceptable in licensed premises let alone in the National Assembly in front of members of staff and members of the public.”
In considering the report, the Standards Committee noted that “Neil McEvoy MS accepted that during the incident in question, he had lost his temper and that his behaviour towards Mick Antoniw MS was aggressive.
"He said that he regretted his behaviour, which would not be repeated. 4 Code of Conduct Report 03-20 under Standing Order 22.9 9 He outlined to the Committee a range of mitigating factors which he said had led to his behaviour.”
The Committee recommends to the Senedd, in accordance with paragraph 7.12(vii) of the Procedure, that a breach has been found and that Neil McEvoy MS should be excluded from Senedd proceedings for 21 calendar days. The Committee also recommends that Neil McEvoy MS has the right of access to Ty Hywel and the Senedd removed during this 21 day period.
Mr McEvoy has criticised the verdict and the process. He says that while he’s accepted that while “I wasn’t without blame this time” that the punishment is disproportionate. And he says the claims are contradicted by CCTV footage which wasn’t considered but which he’s posted on twitter.
Senedd Members will vote on whether or not to impose the ban next Wednesday.