Suspended AM’s relief as ordeal draws to a close

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

WREXHAM’S former council leader should know this week whether he is finally able to take up the Welsh Assembly seat he won in May.

The agony he has gone through since being accused of breaking election rules,
and even committing electoral fraud, will be ended when fellow AMs vote on his admission to the Senedd chamber on Wednesday.

In advance of the debate, Cllr Aled Roberts has spoken of the trauma the affair has meant for himself and his family. He has also thanked the many people who have contacted him to express their support.

Cllr Roberts, who is still a councillor for Ponciau, won the North Wales regional Assembly seat  for the Liberal Democrats at May’s election but he was excluded from the chamber after officials discovered that at the time of his election he was still a member of the Valuation Tribunal for Wales, which is not allowed under the rules.

Fellow Liberal Democrat John Dixon was also barred from taking up his South Central Wales seat after finding himself in a similar situation over his membership of the Care Council for Wales.

The matter took a more serious turn when UKIP MEP for Wales, John Bufton, reported the two men to the police for alleged electoral fraud. Last week, South Wales Police told them no charges will be brought against them.

Since then Cllr Roberts has been awaiting the findings of a separate probe by the Assembly’s Commissioner for Standards, Gerard Elias QC.

Cllr Roberts said: “The report is complete and has been delivered to the assembly’s presiding officer and party leaders. I have not seen the report but I understand it broadly confirms what I have been saying, that the information I was given about my membership of the tribunal wasn’t correct. The information, which came from the Electoral Commission and was passed on by the returning officers, referred to the 2006 rules about the tribunal rather than the 2010 rules, which had changed.”

He added: “It’s been a frustrating time for me and a very difficult time for my family and I just want to situation to be resolved. The support I have received from my colleagues on the council has been gratefully received.

“I have also had lots of support locally, in the form of many phone calls and emails. I have also been stopped in the street. All this has been very heartening and I would like to thank everyone for that.”

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