Tuesday, 5 July 2011

An Honourable Decision - John Dixon Stands Down

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams AM, has just made this announcement with regards to the 'Lib Dem 2':

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“Tomorrow, Assembly Members will be asked to consider whether it is proper to lift the disqualification of Aled Roberts and John Dixon. The advice of Gerard Elias QC enables them to do so with regard to the facts of each case.

“The Elias report treats each case differently, since the circumstances are very different.

“In the case of Aled Roberts, Gerard Elias has confirmed that ‘at each stage of his selection and nomination process, Aled Roberts followed the guidance provided to him by the Electoral Commission and mirrored on the National Assembly website’. He also confirms that the information provided to him referred him to incorrect guidance. Finally, he says that he finds that ‘Aled Roberts did eveything that he could reasonably been expected to do in ensuring that he was not a disqualified person.’

“Gerard Elias also deals with the fact that the guidance offered to Aled Roberts in the medium of Welsh was incorrect and states that ‘he was entitled to assume that the Welsh version would mirror the English version at all times and in every respect.’

“I would like to welcome the statement by the Electoral Commission who have acknowleged their error and offered an apology.

“It is clear that this is a case of enormous importance to the future of the equality of the Welsh language, to the reputation of the Assembly and to Welsh devolution. I will do everything I can to perasuade colleagues that Aled Roberts should take his rightful place in the Assembly. Based on the contents of the Elias report, it is hard to see how any reasonable person could conclude otherwise.

John Dixon
“In the case of John Dixon, Gerard Elias concludes that “he honestly believed that he was eligible to be a member of the National Assembly”. However, he also concludes that he had a responsibility to check the Order but did not do so. I have already accepted the responsibility that the Welsh Liberal Democrats share in this failiure.

“It has always been my view that the disqualification of both men should be lifted. Whatever the rights and wrongs of either case, to impose a ban on either from taking up their seats represents a punishment out of proportion to any error made.

“However, given that Gerard Elias’ report makes clear that the responsiblity to check the Order rested with John Dixon, I do not believe that there is any likelihood of a majority of Assembly Members being persuaded to disregard the disqualification.

“It is with huge regret therefore that the Welsh Liberal Democrats, with John’s agreement, have decided to withdraw the motion to disregard the disqualification of John Dixon.

“John has already served the public diligently and with distinction on Cardiff Council. I have no doubt that would have been an enormously effective and hard working Assembly Member. He is paying a very high price for his mistake. It is personal tragedy for him and I desperately wish that it were different. But I cannot change the facts any more than I can change the opinions of Assembly Members.

“I hope now that Assembly Members will now be able to focus on the case of Aled Roberts and ensure that justice is done.”

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It is with great regret that it has come to this as John Dixon would've made a fine Assembly Member. The fact that the WLGA leader Cllr John Davies said as much during the recent WLGA conference speaks volumes.

Eluned Parrott
I think that John has made an extremely honourable decision to fall on his sword at this point instead of forcing it through to a vote in the Assembly Chamber tomorrow afternoon. It was a mistake that was made that brought about this situation but not one that would've brought any financial gain. We are all human and this is a personal tragedy for John and for the South Wales Central region because he would've served its residents with great distinction.

He and the region are at least blessed in the knowledge that he will be replaced with Eluned Parrott who I know will be an excellent replacement. Married and with a young family, Eluned will be a new personaility within the Assembly Chamber and I know that she will do her region and her party, proud.

Aled Roberts
Aled Roberts
This leaves us with the morale battle to re-instate Aled Roberts to the Assembly tomorrow afternoon.

As Kirsty has said in her statement, the report shows that Aled was innocent of any wrong-doing and that it was the Electoral Commission's error that brought about this regretable situation.

That criticial line again in the report:

"Aled Roberts did eveything that he could reasonably been expected to do in ensuring that he was not a disqualified person".

As Kirsty added: "Based on the contents of the Elias report, it is hard to see how any reasonable person could conclude otherwise".

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