Thursday, 12 July 2018

Why it did it take Labour an age to discipline an AM ?

 Whilst I can accept that anybody can be caught out by drink driving after having only a few drinks there is clearly  no excuse and we expect our leaders to set example.

But in a recent case of a AM being convicted of drink driving then it is the failure of the Labour Party  to act on it immediately that is the  real scandal here

Sir Alistair Graham the ex-chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life has said that Labour should explain why it took five months to discipline an AM convicted of a "serious crime"

Rhianon Passmore was convicted in February of failing to provide a breath test and referred herself to an assembly watchdog in March.
The offence happened in September 2017.

Welsh Labour has suspended the Islwyn AM from its assembly group but will not comment on the disciplinary process. 

 On publication of the assembly standards committee report on Monday - which recommended she be excluded from the Senedd for 14 days, the Labour assembly group said it had withdrawn the whip from Ms Passmore until 1 O

Sir Alistair Grahamcriticised Ms Passmore's delay in informing the assembly's standards watchdog of her conviction at Newport magistrates court in February.

"I am surprised that she was rather slow in referring herself to the standards commissioner but she was clearly right to self-refer," he said.
"I am also rather surprised Labour didn't initiate a disciplinary process or investigation as soon as the assembly member was convicted of such a serious offence."
"They [Labour] have given no explanation about why they didn't take action until the standards committee reported on the issue."

Ms Passmore has apologised, referring to "private struggles that I have found difficult to master".
She said on the day of her arrest she had tried to drive from Cardiff to her mother's house after drinking three glasses of wine.
Her car broke down in the St Mellons area of the city - while she was waiting for the breakdown service, the police arrived and asked her to provide a sample of breath for analysis.
The former probation board member, elected in 2016, was given a 20 month driving ban, £1,000 fine and £100 victim surcharge while prosecution costs of £620 were awarded against her.
In written evidence to the commissioner, Ms Passmore said she did not deliberately fail to give a sample and was distressed after not being able to use her asthma medication properly.

Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas commented on the lack of publicity about the matter, and asked if her Islwyn constituents had been aware of it.
He said on Twitter

"Make of this what you will but I actually knew nothing of this until it appeared this week.
"If I didn't then I suspect most constituents did not, which is a bit strange for such an offence."
Its not as if  ther is no precedent 

 Early in the hours of Sunday 14 October 2012, Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Jenkins (Now Sayeed) was arrested by South Wales Police in Llandaff, Cardiff for driving erratically. When tested, she was more than twice the legal limit, but was released on police bail without a charge for drink driving. Jenkins subsequently issued a statement, stating that there were "no excuses" for what she had done, and that she had resigned her position as Plaid's spokeswoman on heritage, the Welsh language and sport. Her statement also stated that she had been receiving professional medical help for depression. On Monday 15 October, Jenkins was suspended from the Plaid group of AMs "while the process of justice takes its course".9] On 12 November 2012, Bethan was charged with drunk driving,[] and on 19 December was banned from driving for 20 months.

It is to Ms Sayeeds credit that she has proven to be one of the best AM in the chamber often not given the credit she deserve ,  especially in her leadership in the opposition to the Ministry of Justice plans to build a new prison in Port Talbot.

 Rhianon Passmore may according to her story have been unlucky in that
"she did not deliberately fail to give a sample and was distressed after not being able to use her asthma medication properly".

But she and the Labour Party should have taken action earlier , not as it seems hoping that ir would pass by the media,

Indeed there is a question why this has not been reported earlier?

Rather than claim a conspiracy, I think that it reflects the  weakness of our local newspaper , and the number of reporters  working there.

Not so long ago there would be a hack either attending or reading al court reports and this would have come to light.

But even then it would be preferable if Ms Passmore had  her party had come clean from the start.

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