CHANGES will officially be put in place to safeguard the wellbeing of cabinet members following the tragic death of a former minister, the First Minister has said.

John Gittins, senior coroner for North Wales (East and Central) issued a prevention of future deaths report at the conclusion of Carl Sargeant’s inquest earlier this year. The First Minister Mark Drakeford has since responded.

Mr Drakeford said he ‘has a responsibility to look again at the process for ministers leaving the cabinet and to consider what changes should be made’.

To assist him, he made contact with current and former ministers and the family of the late Carl Sargeant – former AM for Alyn and Deeside – to incorporate the views they were able to provide.

In his response, Mr Drakeford said: “I think that it is important that I should signal very clearly that as First Minister I regard myself as having a responsibility to help promote and safeguard the wellbeing of my cabinet colleagues throughout the period of their time in Government, from first joining the cabinet through to their departure from office.

“I hope that in practice I have acted with this responsibility in mind since I became First Minister.”

A new section to the ministerial code has been put in place for the Welsh Government – called ‘Ministers and their Wellbeing’ - which sets out the standards of constitutional and personal conduct expected of ministers, this can be viewed online at

Mr Drakeford added: “I believe that making this responsibility an obligation upon myself under the code will provide an explicit and public recognition of the pressures that ministers can face and a commitment to support them personally.”

The First Minister said the content of the code is a matter for the First Minister of the day, however, he hopes his successors will ‘similarly recognise the importance of ensuring wellbeing of Ministers’.

The inquest into the death of Carl Sargeant was concluded as suicide. Mr Sargeant took his own life in 2017, following allegations of sexual misconduct.

The former minister was sacked by then-First Minister Carwyn Jones over the allegations and the inquest heard how more support needed to be given for outgoing ministers.

Mr Drakeford said reshuffles will be conducted with ‘sensitivity of impact’ on individuals and will ensure the wellbeing of ministers will be taken into account, including a recognition that individuals may react in different ways on being asked to leave office.

He said: “Particular care will be taken to consider the wellbeing of a departing minister if the circumstances of their departure are difficult and high-profile, such as an alleged breach of the Ministerial Code.”

A pack of information will also be given to those departing Government, including a reminder of the support services available in their capacity as an assembly member.

Details will also be given of a named official in the cabinet division who will act as their liaison point for any practical queries or issues in relation to their departure, including to ensure the orderly completion of any outstanding matters – collection of belongings, return of papers, for example – which remain to be transacted.

Mr Drakeford added: “An induction programme for new ministers is being developed, and as part of that I will ensure that the programme includes advice on managing a challenging workload and dealing with the pressures of ministerial responsibilities, alongside wider constituency duties and personal circumstances.

“It will also include giving new ministers the opportunity to be linked to an experienced minister who will be able to offer informal support and guidance at the outset.”

Mr Drakeford, in his response, said the report has prompted them to review more widely the access to support services they have at the moment, which will be expanded to cover public appointees.

In a statement issued through his lawyers, Hudgell Solicitors, Jack Sargeant AM said: “As a family, we welcome the First Minister’s considered response to the coroner.

“It is clear to us that the current First Minister is taking his responsibility to promote and safeguard the welfare of ministers seriously and in such a way that was not in place at the time of Dad’s death.

“Of course, none of it is easy reading for us. We can’t help feeling that the slapdash and underhand approach taken by the previous First Minister when removing Dad from government significantly contributed to his death.

“We hope that Mark Drakeford will now be the guardian of a kinder type of politics.”