Assembly candidate suspended by Conservatives ‘pending investigation’ after he wrecked rape trial

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Assembly hopeful Ross England has been suspended by the Conservative Party pending an investigation.

In April 2018 Mr England made comments that led to a rape trial being scrapped and having to be restarted.

A judge gave him a public dressing down and told him he had “deliberately sabotaged” the trial.

Despite the judge’s comments Mr England was selected as the Assembly candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan in the 2021 election.

The remarks were made during the trial in April 2018 but could not be reported until now because of an ongoing legal appeal.

After failing to comment since Monday the Conservative Party has now issued a statement via their Welsh wing.

The chairman of the Welsh Conservatives, Lord Davies of Gower, said: “Ross England has been suspended pending this matter being presented to the candidates committee.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked about the judge’s comments in the Commons by Cardiff Central’s Labour MP Jo Stevens on Wednesday.

Mr Johnson refused to comment saying that it would not be appropriate given ongoing legal proceedings. After his question the Prime Minister’s press secretary was contacted and the legal status of the case, which has concluded, was reiterated.

He said it was a matter for the Welsh Conservatives and the Prime Minister had nothing to add.

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During the trial Judge Stephen Hopkins QC told Mr England:  “You have managed, singlehandedly, and I have no doubt it was deliberate on your part, to sabotage this trial.

“Mr England, as far as I am concerned, this matter so far as you are concerned isn’t ended. I shall be writing personal letters to people who are politically close to you and I hope they take appropriate action. Get out of my court.”

The case had to be ended early and a retrial took place six months later, last October, when the victim had to go through the ordeal of giving evidence for a second time and the defendant, James Hackett, was found guilty and jailed for five years.

Until now the case could not be reported as Hackett was attempting to appeal against his conviction. However his request for an appeal has now not been granted.

Despite the judge’s promise to write letters to call for “appropriate action” to be taken Mr England was selected as an Assembly candidate that December.

He was praised by his former boss,  Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns , in a press release welcoming his selection and describing the pair as “friends and colleagues”.

We asked Mr Cairns whether he knew of the judge’s attack and why he congratulated Mr England on his selection. Mr Cairns said he could not disclose employment records and did not go beyond that.



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