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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Secret report on Carl Sargeant will not be published

The BBC report that Wales' most senior civil servant has refused to publish a redacted version of a report into whether the sacking of Carl Sargeant was leaked before a cabinet reshuffle.

She is concerned that to do so would have implications for future investigations, specifically it would prevent future witnesses from being totally candid if they thought their evidence were to be made public.

On the face of it that is a valid decision. I would expect nothing less from the Welsh Government's top bureaucrat. But politically it is a disastrous for the First Minister as it leaves the events around his disastrous reshuffle lost in a cloud of intrigue and speculation. That is evident from the reaction of the leader of the Welsh Conservatives:

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: "This is simply unacceptable and bitterly disappointing. "The will of the National Assembly was clear and the excuses for not publishing the report are at best weak, and at worst plain obstructive."

He said the conclusion of the inquiry, which is repeated in the letter, "once again invites more speculation".

"The longer this facade continues the more damaging it is for the Welsh Government, and our democratic processes cannot continue to be marred by persistent stonewalling, particularly when matters of significant public interest are at stake," he added.

The facts appear to be that some journalists and lobbyists knew about the sacking of Carl Sargeant before it was officially made public, possibly before Carl was told. If there was no leak as the Permanent Secretary asserts then the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the briefing was sanctioned.

Does the report address this point? If not, why not? And if it does, surely that fact and the name of the person who authorised the leak should be made public so we can make up our own mind as to its impact on Carl's state of mind and what such a process says about the way he was treated within government.
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