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Election 2011, News, Politics

Lib Dem 2: The Senedd saga continues

The Assembly Standards Commissioner, Gerard Elias QC, has begun his investigation into the two disqualified Welsh Liberal Democrat AMs.

His inquiry was put on hold while the police and Crown Prosecution Service conducted their own investigations.

Yesterday South Wales Police said:

South Wales Police has now completed an investigation into an allegation of electoral fraud on behalf of both South Wales and North Wales Police, following a complaint received by both forces on 19th May 2011.

The Crown Prosecution Service has now considered our police file and has decided that no further action will be taken.

And the CPS said:

We have very carefully considered a file of evidence in relation to two candidates who stood for election to the National Assembly for Wales at the general election on 5 May 2011 in relation to a potential offence of making a false statement in a nomination paper contrary to Regulation 34 of the National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) Order 2007 and Section 13 of the Government of Wales Act 2006.

To charge that offence the prosecution would have to be able to prove that a defendant acted dishonestly and we concluded that we could not show that in this case.
We have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to show that at the time each of the candidates declared that they were qualified for being elected as an Assembly Member they either knew or believed such declaration to be false.
We have therefore decided that neither candidate should be prosecuted.

So what happens now?

I understand Gerard Elias’ investigation won’t report until at least the end of next week.

That means AMs will not know what his findings are before Wednesday, when they’re due to vote on two motions that would allow Aled Roberts and John Dixon to take their seats.

At the time of writing, the Lib Dems haven’t yet decided whether or not to try to delay those motions, but it seems likely they will.

It’s not clear whether the other parties will back a delay though. That decision will be taken when the business committee meets on Tuesday.

And even with the police decision not to prosecute, the outcome of those motions is still far from certain.

It will be a free vote and AMs within Plaid Cyrmu and the Conservatives are split between those who are more sympathetic to the disqualified AMs and those who are resolutely against them returning.

In fact amongst the Conservatives, I’m told there are more who think their position is untenable than who think otherwise.

But within the Labour group there’s no sign whatsoever of AMs softening their stance.

I gather legal advice is circulating within the party advising against allowing the Lib Dem two to take their seats.

If that’s the case, it doesn’t matter when the votes are held.

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About Adrian Masters

By day, Political Editor at ITV Wales. By night, obsessed with music and books.

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