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Welsh leader defends conduct after accused politician dies

November 9, 2017

FILE - This is a Sept. 13, 2011 file photo of former Welsh government minister Carl Sargeant. Sargeant who resigned from his post in the Welsh government last week after allegations of misconduct has died. The family of Sargeant said Tuesday Nov. 7, 2017 said that they were "devastated beyond words" by his death. (Benjamin Wright/PA, File via AP)

LONDON (AP) — The leader of Wales said Thursday he had no choice but to fire a politician facing allegations of sexual misconduct who was later found dead.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said he did everything “by the book” in handling abuse claims against Welsh Assembly member Carl Sargeant.

Sargeant, 49, was found dead Tuesday, days after Jones sacked him from his Welsh Cabinet post. He is believed to have killed himself.

Sargeant’s family says he was not given details of the allegations but they dealt with “unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping.”

Sargeant had denied wrongdoing. His family said his distress at being unable to defend himself properly meant he was not afforded “common courtesy, decency or natural justice.”

Speaking at Welsh government headquarters in Cardiff, Jones said he “had no alternative but to take the action that I did, and I hope that people will understand that.”

He said he would “welcome any scrutiny of my actions” in an independent investigation.

Sargeant was one of several British politicians facing allegations of sexual harassment or abuse. Jones said his death had caused “great hurt, anger and bewilderment” for those who knew him.

“These are the darkest days any of us can remember in this institution,” he said. “But they are darkest of all for the family, and we must respect their right to grieve in peace at this time.”

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