Carl Sargeant's son hopes to stand for Labour in father's former seat

Steven Morris
Jack Sargeant comforts his mother Bernie at this father’s funeral. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

The 23-year-old son of Carl Sargeant, the Welsh politician found dead after being sacked as a minister, is to attempt to follow his father into the Welsh assembly.

Jack Sargeant has announced he will apply to be Labour’s candidate in Alyn & Deeside, north Wales, where a byelection is to be held in the new year following his father’s death.

Sargeant said: “I’m standing to be a champion for our local community. They’ve stood with my family in difficult times and I want to repay them for their support and build on the hard work my dad did.

“My dad was a local lad from Connah’s Quay and never lost his roots. That’s why people in Alyn and Deeside loved him and why we loved him. I grew up knowing how much he cared about his home and the people who live here and I want to carry on his legacy, keep delivering on the things he cared about.”

Carl Sargeant was dismissed as cabinet secretary for communities and children on on 3 November following allegations of harassment. He apparently took his own life at the family home four days later.

Sargeant’s family and friends have been highly critical of the way the Welsh first minister, Carwyn Jones, handled the situation, complaining that Sargeant did not know the nature of the allegations he was facing and had been left in limbo.

Investigations have begun into how Jones handled the allegations, and whether news of his sacking was leaked. A third inquiry is to focus on allegations of bullying in the Welsh government.

The final decision on whether Jack Sargeant will be the Labour candidate will be taken by local party members.

“I never expected to be going into public life,” he said. “I studied engineering, not law or politics, but I think I can bring real-world experience into the Welsh assembly, and I think the assembly needs that.

“I want to make a difference like my dad did, whether he was trying to get better housing for local people, to protect our environment by driving forward recycling plans across Wales and supporting green jobs, or standing up for women who had been subject to domestic violence, playing his part in getting a new law through the assembly to protect them.”

Jones stayed away from Carl Sargeant’s funeral on the family’s wishes. Explaining why he was standing, Sergeant did not mention the first minister but said he had been pleased to meet Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, at the funeral.

“I’m a loyal Labour member, proud to be a Labour member,” he said. “It was an honour to meet Jeremy Corbyn when he came to dad’s funeral, but I’ll be my own man. I have my own principles and values. They’re Labour values. They’re about standing up for ordinary hard-working people.”

The former Labour minister Leighton Andrews, who has been fiercely critical of Jones since Sargeant’s death, said there was support for Jack Sargeant across Wales.

“Anyone who heard Jack speaking in the Connah’s Quay Labour club after his dad’s funeral will know that this is a determined young man who knows his own mind,” he said.

“He has his own voice and values. Already support has been flooding in from all over the Labour party in Wales. His dad would be so proud.”