Alun Cairns refuses to give details on rape trial row


Alun Cairns

Alun Cairns has refused to answer questions on when he knew about the collapse of a rape trial caused by his former aide, in his first interview since the story broke.

Mr Cairns resigned as Welsh Secretary on Wednesday.

The Conservative Vale of Glamorgan candidate told BBC Wales he is “determined to clear his name”.

His former aide was selected as an assembly candidate eight months after the trial collapsed.

Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats have called for Mr Cairns to quit as general election candidate.

In evidence to the trial in April 2018 Mr England made comments which led to the crown court judge responsible accusing him of sabotaging the case.

Mr Cairns had denied he knew about the trial’s collapse until last week, but resigned after BBC Wales obtained an email addressed to him discussing the case – it had been sent in August 2018.

Asked how he reconciled the differences between the statements, Mr Cairns said: “This is a highly sensitive situation, and I’ve taken this seriously throughout.

“The party has made a statement that has expressed sympathy to the victim. That is something I would absolutely fully support and of course suspension of Ross England as the candidate.

“Now it’s important to realise that I had nothing, no association in anyway with the trial and that I’ve stood aside as the secretary of state for Wales in order to give the cabinet office the space they need to fully look at all of the facts so they can come to a conclusion and a judgement.

“I’m keen to get on with the campaign of the general election. Of course people will judge all of the facts rather than trial by media.”

Asked by BBC Wales if he would stick to what he has said in his statements, he said: “There is a due process”, referring to an investigation that will be carried out by the cabinet office.

Image caption

Ross England has been suspended as a candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan at the assembly election

Put to him that voters would want to know when he knew about the collapsed trial, he reiterated that civil servants will “look at this properly, look at it fully, and look at it as quickly as possible.”

He said Mr England “left my employment some 13 months before the trial”, and that he had “no communication from the court or the judge”.

It was put to Mr Cairns that BBC Wales had spoken to sources within the Conservative Party who were aware of the matter. Asked why he did not know about the situation if they did, he repeated his earlier points.

“Let the cabinet office look at all of the evidence, let them take into account all of the facts, and they will make the judgement rather than be faced by trial by media,” he said.

Mr Cairns then left the interview.

Other candidates standing in the Vale of Glamorgan include Belinda Loveluck-Edwards for Welsh Labour and Anthony Slaughter for the Wales Green Party.

The close of nominations is 14 November.



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