Alun Cairns resigns as Welsh Secretary in rape trial 'sabotage' row

6 November 2019, 12:12 | Updated: 6 November 2019, 18:19

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns in Downing Street
Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns in Downing Street. Picture: PA
Sylvia De Luca

By Sylvia De Luca

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns has resigned amid claims he knew about a former aide’s role in the ‘sabotage’ of a rape trial.

Mr Cairns had faced calls to resign after being accused of lying about his knowledge of an allegation that a Conservative candidate had sabotaged a rape trial.

He had been accused of "brazenly lying" about his knowledge of an allegation that former staff member Ross England had a role in a trial which collapsed.

In a letter to the prime minister, Mr Cairns wrote: "You will be aware of allegations relating to the actions of a Party employee and candidate for the Welsh Assembly elections in the Vale of Glamorgan.

"This is a very sensitive matter, and in light of continued speculation, I write to tender my resignation as Secretary of State for Wales.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns at the Welsh Conservative party conference at Llangollen Pavilion
Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns at the Welsh Conservative party conference at Llangollen Pavilion. Picture: PA

LBC News spoke to Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford about Alun Cairn's decision to resign.

He said: "I don't think there was any alternative but that Alun Cairn should resign as Secretary of State for Wales.

"It still leaves a series of unanswered questions.

"And actually, what I think is more significant is what this tells you about the state of the Conservative Party."

"I will cooperate in full with the investigation under the Ministerial Code which will now take place and I am confident I will be cleared of any breach or wrong doing."

Mr Cairns said it had been "an honour" to serve in the Government and said he will continue to support Boris Johnson's "vision and ambitions for the country."

Mr Cairns claims he had been unaware of former staff member Ross England's role in the collapsed trial until after the story broke last week.

But the BBC said it had obtained a leaked email that showed Mr Cairns had been made aware of the allegations as early as August last year.

The Welsh Conservatives have put out this statement about Alun Cairns’ resignation from Paul Davies, leader of the Conservative group in the Welsh assembly:

"I am sorry to see Alun resign today as the secretary of state for Wales. However, under the circumstances this was the right decision for him. Alun has rightly stated that he will cooperate fully with any investigations.

"I would like to thank Alun for his service to Wales as our secretary of state where he brought an end to the Severn Bridge Tolls which will leave a lasting legacy on the Welsh economy."

On the case itself, Mr Davies added: “This case has been shocking and disturbing. My heart goes out to this individual and to all victims of rape and sexual assault.

“I expect the highest standards from Welsh Conservative Assembly candidates; this court case suggests that Ross England has fallen short of those standards.”

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