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Carl Sargeant: Carwyn Jones threatens legal action over report debate

Carl Sargeant: Carwyn Jones threatens legal action over report debate
From BBC - April 17, 2018

The first minister has threatened legal action over the publication of a report into whether details about a cabinet reshuffle were leaked before the death of Carl Sargeant.

AMs are due to debate a Conservative call to publish the report.

Carwyn Jones asked the assembly's Presiding Officer Elin Jones to call it off, threatening court proceedings.

But Ms Jones has rejected the first minister's case, saying the debate will still go ahead.

Carwyn Jones wrote that calling off the debate, planned for Wednesday, would "bring the matter to an end without the need for court proceedings, which may otherwise need to be brought as a matter of urgency".

He said the presiding officer Elin Jones was acting "unlawfully".

Welsh Conservative Andrew RT Davies said it was a "direct challenge" to the legitimacy of the assembly.

Alyn and Deeside AM Mr Sargeant was found dead four days after being sacked as communities secretary in November following allegations about his conduct towards women.

A Welsh Government inquiry found "no evidence of prior unauthorised sharing of information", according to a brief statement.

But ministers have refused to publish the full findings of the inquiry, warning that doing so may reveal the identity of witnesses.

During Tuesday's First Ministers Questions, Carwyn Jones told AMs he was considering legal action because of the "lack of clarity" with the current rules that could "potentially" make any government document be releasable.

"If a whistle-blower came forward to a minister with a serious allegation on the basis of confidentiality and a document was created as a result of that, there is now no guarantee of confidentiality without further clarity."

He said did not want the leak inquiry debate cancelled but favoured it being postponed to allow a "protocol to be developed".

Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies, who wants a redacted version of the report published,accused Mr Jones of "trying to silence the assembly".

The Conservatives were hoping to win enough support to invoke a clause in the Government of Wales Act that would have forced publication of the report.

In his letter to the Presiding Officer Elin Jones, the first minister wrote: "We are concerned that the assembly has acted, and threatens to continue acting, unlawfully."

If the Tories' motion is not withdrawn, he adds: "I reserve the right to bring proceedings for judicial review."

Government officials said they would want the courts to rule on the interpretation of the law.

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