A former Welsh government minister, who was suspended by Labour over his ‘personal conduct’, has been found dead, his family have announced.
Carl Sargeant quit his post as Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children in Cardiff last week after what he called “shocking and distressing” allegations were made against him.
His body was found at his home in Connah’s Quay, north Wales, at 11.30am on Tuesday. North Wales Police said they were “not treating his death as suspicious”. It is understood that Sargeant took his own life.
All Welsh Assembly business was suspended as a mark of respect.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his death was “terrible and deeply shocking news” and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said his passing would be “a great loss” to the party and the country.
Sargeant was suspended from the party last week and had the whip withdrawn in the National Assembly for Wales while an investigation took place into the allegations against him.
Labour’s national party HQ suspended him on Friday following unspecified allegations against him.
His family said in a statement on Tuesday: “Carl was a much loved husband, father and friend. He wasn’t simply a part of our family. He was the glue that bound us together. He was the heart of our family. We loved him so very much.
“He was the most kind and caring husband, father, son and friend. We are devastated beyond words, and we know our grief will be shared by all those who knew and loved him.”
Sargeant had been a member of the Welsh Assembly since 2003. He was made minister for social justice and local government in 2009 and was appointed cabinet secretary for communities and children in May last year.
Last week, after his resignation, Sargeant said he wanted to clear his name through an independent process.
He said in a statement: “I met with the First Minister today and he informed me allegations had been made about my personal conduct, which was shocking and distressing to me.
“The details of the allegations have yet to be disclosed to me.”
He said that “given the nature of the allegations”, he agreed with the First Minister that he was right he “stands aside” from cabinet.
He added: “I look forward to returning to Government once my name has been cleared.”
Today, Corbyn said: “This is terrible and deeply shocking news. My thoughts and profound sympathy are with Carl’s family, friends and colleagues.”
The Welsh First Minister said: “Carl was a friend as well as a colleague and I am shocked and deeply saddened by his death.
“He made a big contribution to Welsh public life and fought tirelessly for those he represented both as a minister and as a local Assembly Member.
“He will be a great loss both to our party and to the Senedd (Senate). My heartfelt sympathies are with his family at this difficult time.”
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson added: “I campaigned with Carl for many years. He was a powerful voice for working people and Wales.
“He put community at the heart of his politics and was respected by his constituents for it. My love and prayers are with Carl’s family today. This is a tragedy beyond words.”
Tributes to Sargeant came in from different parties in Wales.
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: “Our Parliament has lost a stalwart and many of us have lost a friend.”
Former Plaid Cymru AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas told the BBC that Sargeant “clearly felt he had been found guilty before he had a chance to defend himself.
“So I think we need to develop a system which is fair to everybody, which defends everybody, but doesn’t place people in a position where they feel they have no opportunity whatsoever to fight their cause.”
Superintendent Mark Pierce, of North Wales Police, said officers are supporting the family.
“North Wales Police are not treating his death as suspicious and the matter has been referred to HM Coroner,” he said.
“The family request that their privacy is respected at this sad time.”
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