The family of Welsh politician Carl Sargeant are “shocked and concerned” at new evidence which appears to contradict the account First Minister Carwyn Jones gave to the inquest into his death.
The hearing into the death of Alyn and Deeside AM Mr Sargeant, 49, was adjourned indefinitely on Friday for Mr Jones to be recalled as a witness and to allow a legal challenge by his representatives.
The father-of-two was found hanged at his home in Connah’s Quay, Deeside, on November 7 last year, four days after he was sacked from his job as cabinet secretary for communities and children by Mr Jones, after “bombshell” claims he had groped and touched women.
Speaking outside court, Neil Hudgell, solicitor for Mr Sargeant’s wife Bernadette and son Jack, said: “We are shocked and concerned by new witness evidence which appears to contradict evidence already given on oath by the First Minister and his senior special adviser, resulting in them having to return to court to clarify and explain those conflicts.
“However, they are undeterred and will not stop in their quest for the truth.”
He added: “Finally, I feel the need to remind everyone, as it seems to have been forgotten at times this week, that at the heart of these proceedings is a much-loved and missed husband, father, son and brother.”
A spokeswoman for the First Minister said: “It is right and proper that the inquest is conducted fairly and openly and the coroner considers all relevant evidence available to him.”
The First Minister gave evidence to the inquest, at Ruthin County Hall, on Wednesday concerning the “pastoral care” of Mr Sargeant following his sacking.
A new statement from Assembly Member Ann Jones was given to the coroner on Friday morning which contradicted Mr Jones’s evidence, Leslie Thomas QC, representing Mr Sargeant’s family, told the hearing.
Mr Jones and his chief special adviser, Matt Greenough, are set to be recalled when the inquest is resumed.
Coroner for North Wales (East and Central) John Gittins agreed to a request by Mr Thomas to attempt to check the telephone records of Mr Jones and text messages of Mr Greenough.
Mr Gittins apologised to Mr Sargeant’s family as he adjourned the inquest, which had been due to conclude on Friday.
He has twice refused applications to hear evidence from Aaron Shotton, leader of Flintshire County Council and his deputy, Bernie Attridge, relating to details of the allegations against Mr Sargeant.
Cathryn McGahey QC, representing the First Minister, has sought to have his rulings reviewed by the Administrative Court.
A text exchange between Mr Shotton and Mr Attridge suggested Mr Sargeant would be “shitting bricks” now disclosures about alleged sexual misconduct in politics were growing amid the Me Too movement.
Earlier on Friday, the court heard from Wrexham Assembly Member Lesley Griffiths, who said more could have been provided by the Welsh Government for Mr Sargeant in terms of pastoral care.
Mrs Griffiths, who travelled to Cardiff with Mr Sargeant on the day he was sacked, said he was a “larger than life character” but she knew he suffered from depression.
She told the hearing she had spoken to Mr Sargeant over the phone following his sacking and his voice sounded “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.”