| 8°C Belfast

Welsh politician had no idea he was facing sack over sex claims, inquest told

Carl Sargeant was found hanged at his home in Connah’s Quay, Deeside, on November 7 last year.

Close

Carl Sargeant was found hanged four days after being sacked (Family/PA)

Carl Sargeant was found hanged four days after being sacked (Family/PA)

Carl Sargeant was found hanged four days after being sacked (Family/PA)

Welsh politician Carl Sargeant had “no idea” he was to be sacked over allegations of sexual misconduct, a fellow cabinet minister has told his inquest.

Mr Sargeant, 49, was found hanged at his home in Connah’s Quay, Deeside, on November 7 last year, four days after he lost his role as cabinet secretary for communities and children following “bombshell” sex claims he had groped and touched women.

On Friday, an inquest into his death had been due to conclude but the court heard a legal challenge by representatives for Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones and a possible need to recall Mr Jones to give additional evidence meant it would not finish until a later date.

Lesley Griffiths, Assembly Member for Wrexham and cabinet secretary for energy, planning and rural affairs, told the fifth day of the hearing at Ruthin County Hall she had travelled by train to Cardiff with Mr Sargeant on November 3, ahead of the cabinet reshuffle in which he was sacked.

Close

Lesley Griffiths gave evidence to the inquest (Matt Faber/PA)

Lesley Griffiths gave evidence to the inquest (Matt Faber/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Lesley Griffiths gave evidence to the inquest (Matt Faber/PA)

She said: “My sincere thought at that time is he had no idea what was going to come.”

Mrs Griffiths told the court she and Mr Sargeant were both driven to Cathays Park from the train station to see Mr Jones but were separated once they arrived.

She said she later spoke to him over the phone.

“Straight away his voice was completely different,” she said.

“He said he’d gone but there was something else as well, that he’d been told there were allegations. He didn’t know what they were.”

Mrs Griffiths was asked if she thought more could have been provided for Mr Sargeant in terms of pastoral care.

She answered: “Yes, I do.”

Mrs Griffiths described the Alyn and Deeside AM as a “larger than life character” but said she had seen him break down in tears a number of times and was aware he experienced what has been described in court as a “significant life event”.

She said in the August before he died they had been for a meal together and he told her: “The black dog visited and I have been to see my doctor for depression.”

She told the court Mr Sargeant felt he was treated differently from other ministers and that his job was under threat.

She said: “I think he felt generally undermined in a way that others weren’t.”

Cathryn McGahey QC, representing the First Minister, asked if she had ever heard reports of Mr Sargeant drinking too much and becoming “silly with women”.

Mrs Griffiths said: “No.”

Coroner for North Wales (East and Central) John Gittins apologised to Mr Sargeant’s family as he told them further evidence would continue on Friday but he would not be concluding the inquest.

Ms McGahey has sought to review the coroner’s rulings on whether to hear evidence relating to the details of allegations made against Mr Sargeant.

Mr Gittins has twice refused applications to hear evidence from Aaron Shotton, leader of Flintshire County Council and his deputy, Bernie Attridge.

A text exchange between the pair suggested Mr Sargeant would be “shitting bricks” now revelations about alleged sexual misconduct in politics were growing amid the Me Too movement.

PA