First Minister urged to quit over handling of Carl Sargeant allegations

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones will meet Labour assembly members still in shock over the death of Carl Sargeant amid criticism of his handling of the allegations against the former minister.

Mr Sargeant, who had been sacked as a Welsh Government minister and suspended from the Labour Party, was facing claims of "unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping" at the time of his death.

His family said Mr Sargeant's distress at being unable to defend himself properly meant he was not afforded "common courtesy, decency or natural justice".

A friend of Mr Sargeant said Mr Jones' treatment of his former minister had been "unforgivable" and he should "do the right thing and resign".

Mr Sargeant is understood to have taken his own life four days after being sacked from his role as communities and children secretary in the Welsh Government.

A spokesman for the First Minister said: "This is a difficult time for everybody, particularly Carl's family, who are still coming to terms with this horrific news.

"Like everyone in the Welsh Labour family Carwyn is deeply upset by the death of his friend."

Welsh Labour AMs will gather in the assembly to "remember Carl and discuss the tragic events of the past week" and Mr Jones will make a statement after the meeting.

Bernie Attridge, the deputy leader of Flintshire council and a councillor in Mr Sargeant's home town Connah's Quay demanded the First Minister's resignation.

"My mourning is turning into anger in the way my friend was treated by so-called people who say they were his friend," he said.

In a message to Mr Jones he added: "I call on you to do the right thing and resign. The way you have treated Carl is unforgivable, you make me sick."

Mr Attridge is not the only Labour politician to have raised concerns about the situation.

Labour AM Jenny Rathbone said: "It is a basic fairness that you have got to know what the accusations are against you in order to be able to respond but that doesn't mean to say we don't need to take allegations seriously, we obviously do."

Labour's women and equalities spokeswoman Dawn Butler initially issued a call for an investigation into how Welsh Labour handled the case, telling BBC Radio 5 Live that "it doesn't sound as though everything that should have happened, happened".

But less than an hour later Ms Butler released a statement saying she was "satisfied that the appropriate process was followed".

Rhondda MP and former minister Chris Bryant said: "If this fortnight teaches anything it is there must be a fair and proper process for those who feel they have been harassed or abused and fair due process for those facing allegations.

Mr Sargeant's family published correspondence between his solicitor and the Labour Party about the case.

In a letter and email sent to the Labour Party on Monday, Mr Sargeant's solicitor Huw Bowden made clear that the Alyn and Deeside AM "categorically denied" any wrongdoing and appealed to the party to provide details of the accusations against him.

He noted the party had confirmed that no "parallel investigations" - such as a police inquiry - were being conducted.

Writing the day before the 49-year-old's death, Mr Bowden warned that the case was causing Mr Sargeant anxiety and distress and that any delays in concluding the party's investigation would be "prejudicial... to his physical and mental well-being".

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