A woman assaulted by her MP husband has criticised Plaid Cymru for allowing him to sit in Parliament as one of the party's MPs again.
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP, Jonathan Edwards, accepted a caution in May 2020 for assaulting his wife at their home in Ammanford.Edwards was suspended by the party for a year following the incident, but was allowed to rejoin Plaid Cymru earlier this year. It was also revealed on Wednesday that he would be allowed to call himself a Plaid Cymru MP again, despite the party's ruling body having wanted him to sit as an independent.
His wife, Emma Edwards, told the BBC she was "appalled" by the decision and said tit appeared "that survivors of domestic abuse don't matter".
She said a statement issued on her behalf after the incident had been drafted by a press officer and she now regretted agreeing to it.
The statement at the time had said: "Throughout the decade we have been together, he has been a loving and caring husband and father. As far as I am concerned the matter is now closed.”
Mrs Edwards said she and her husband are now divorcing after almost 10 years of marriage. She told the BBC: "In May 2020 I called the police after being assaulted by my husband at our home."At the time I was in shock, denial and I was hopeful that we would be able to reconcile. Even though Jonathan attended an online domestic abuse course, he did not accept responsibility for what happened, minimising the incident. This meant that there was not going to be any reconciliation. I was perhaps naive to think that there could be."Mrs Edwards said the statement was drafted for her by Mr Edwards' press officer, who told her "that it would be the best way to stop it being a story." She now regrets those words as she believes they have been used to excuse the MP's actions.
'I cannot stand by and watch the truth being distorted'
"I have since learned that he is presenting himself as the victim in all of this and this is why I am now seeking to set the record straight. I am appalled and disappointed that the party I was until recently a member of has accepted a domestic abuser to represent them as an MP."This sends the message that women don't matter and that survivors of domestic abuse don't matter. I always believed Plaid Cymru to be better than this. Until now, I have maintained silence. I am not a political person and I do not seek publicity... I cannot stand by and watch the truth being distorted as it has been."Following Edwards' reinstatement, the local Plaid Cymru party in Carmarthenshire said: "We are delighted Jonathan will resume his role as a much valued and respected Plaid Cymru Member of Parliament. He has served this constituency with great dignity and integrity for over a decade."However, not everyone has been in support of the decision, which was made after "procedural advice" which informed Plaid Cymru it would be "unlawful" for Mr Edwards to be kept out of the party. In May, former Plaid leader Leanne Wood called for Mr Edwards to be banned from the party if it was "serious about stamping out misogyny and domestic abuse".
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Mr Edwards said over the past two years he had been in a "period of deep reflection" which included enrolling on a domestic violence awareness course to understand how his actions impacted others.
The MP added: "My colleagues in the Westminster group and the wider party have championed the rights of women and all victims of abusive behaviour. I regret that my actions took the focus away from this important work."Both Plaid Cymru and Jonathan Edwards have declined to comment on Mrs Edwards' comments.