Welsh Lib Dems disqualified

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THE Lib Dems will try to reinstate two disqualified members of the Welsh Assembly after a report found they had been victims of out-of-date guidance for candidates.

Assembly Members Aled Roberts and John Dixon stood down immediately after the May elections when it emerged they were members of outside bodies to which AMs cannot belong. (There were only five Lib Dems elected overall.)

An investigation by Gerard Elias QC, the Welsh Assembly’s standards commissioner, says advice from the Electoral Commission referred Mr Roberts to outdated regulations.

Although the English-language guidance was up-to-date, Mr Roberts – elected for North Wales – followed Welsh-language guidance that pointed him towards regulations on proscribed organisations from 2006. They were replaced in 2010.

Mr Dixon, who was elected an AM for South Wales Central, failed to check any of the relevant Electoral Commission advice.

Although he acknowledged he had a responsibility to read the 2006 and 2010 order “he further acknowledges that at no time did he check the order (either in its 2006 or 2010 form)”.
The Lib Dems have tabled motions in the assembly to reinstate the two on Wednesday.

The two AMs were told they would not face charges following a police investigation into a complaint by UKIP MEP John Bufton.

They were disqualified after it emerged Mr Dixon was still a member of the Care Council for Wales, which regulates social care workers. Mr Roberts was a member of the Valuation Tribunal for Wales, which deals with appeals about business rates and council tax.

The May election saw Labour Party gain four seats compared to the previous election. It now has 30 seats, exactly half of the Assembly. The Welsh Conservatives emerged as the largest opposition party with 14 seats, a net gain of two, but party leader Nick Bourne lost his seat. The junior party in the previous coalition, Plaid Cymru, lost 4 seats. The Welsh Liberal Democrats lost significantly in the popular vote and returned five AMs, a loss of one.