Lib Dem John Dixon will not return to the Welsh Assembly

John Dixon, the Liberal Democrat Welsh Assembly member who was disqualified in May, will not be reinstated after an investigation said he had not read the relevant rules for candidates.

He will be replaced by the next candidate on the party’s regional list: Eluned Parrott.

From the BBC:

Liberal Democrat John Dixon stood down after May’s election when it emerged he was a member of a public body to which AMs cannot belong.

On Wednesday AMs will decide whether to reinstate fellow Lib Dem Aled Roberts who fell victim to out-of-date advice.

Mr Dixon was elected for the South Wales Central region, but had to stand down because he was still a member of the Care Council for Wales, which regulates social care workers.

On Tuesday, a report by assembly standards commissioner Gerard Elias QC said Mr Dixon had not read the regulations on proscribed organisations for candidates.

“Perhaps because he was lulled into a false sense of security by his experiences in earlier elections, he honestly believed that he was eligible to be a member of the National Assembly,” the report says.

Mr Dixon, 46, a graphic and web designer, has been a Cardiff councillor for 12 years and had been an assembly candidate at two previous elections.

The report states:

John Dixon read the Electoral Commission guidance prior to his internal Party election procedure and immediately prior to signing his consent to nomination form. In particular, he was aware of, and read, the Disqualifications section, including the
additional caution.

He was aware of the reference to the Disqualification Order 2006.

He did not read, or seek advice in relation to, that Order.

Had he read either order it would have confirmed that as a member of the Care Council for Wales he was disqualified from
membership of the National Assembly.

His reasons for not following through to consult the Order were twofold:

  • The specific disqualifications mentioned in the guidance e.g.judge/civil servant/member of police or armed forces led him to falsely assume that it was offices such as those to which the section applied.
  • That having been a candidate in the 2007 Assembly Elections and at a number of council elections, and no issues of his eligibility having arisen then, he believed that he was not a disqualified person. He had undergone his Party’s candidate approval process several times in the past.

John Dixon acknowledged that the responsibility to check his eligibility for election was his and his alone; however he did not look at the 2010 order until the matter was brought to his attention on 17 May.

In the case of Aled Roberts, the report concluded:

  • 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 for Wales website.
  • Immediately prior to signing his nomination form he satisfied himself, by reference to the guidance provided in the Welsh language which referred him to the then incorrectly linked 2006 Order, that he was not a disqualified person.
  • In the medium of Welsh, the incorrect guidance remained in place until after the election had taken place.
  • Although the guidance in English was altered to provide a link to the 2010 Order on 11 March 2011, I am satisfied that Aled Roberts consulted the Welsh version.
  • Further he was entitled to assume that the Welsh version would mirror the English versions at all times and in every respect.
  • Although the 2010 Order was in existence and could have been found by a search of the relevant legal websites, I consider it unreasonable to have expected any candidate to have carried out such a procedure when the Electoral Commission guidance was available.
  • Accordingly, in the circumstances pertaining, I find that Aled Roberts did everything that he could have reasonably been expected to do in ensuring that he was not a disqualified person for the purpose of nomination or election to the National Assembly.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams issued a statement:

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.

Williams also welcomed the Electoral Commission’s apology for providing out-of-date advice in the Welsh version of their guidance.

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This entry was posted in Election law, News and Wales.
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3 Comments

  • I am also very sorry that John has been unable to take his place in the Senedd, a long-held ambition of his. I am sure he would have done well. As a matter of interest, did the approval / selection process not check for potential disqualification? Something we don’t always do, but clearly a warning to us all!

    In relation to the other guy – why implicitly, is the English version of the guidance expected to take precedence here? I hope Cymdeithas yr Iaith (the Welsh Language Society) is taking this matter up.

  • Roger Roberts 6th Jul '11 - 9:02am

    I hope very much that Aled is reinstated – he will be a tremendous asset. Regret very much that John Dixon will not be there – he’s been a great champion of Liberalism over many years and a tireless campaigner.Surely, John’s time will come.

  • Malcolm James 6th Jul '11 - 9:26am

    It is not a matter of whether the Welsh or English versions take precedence. The only sensible way is to operate whichever version is more generous, in this case the Welsh, until the confusion is resolved. In that case you could argue that john Dixon should be a very lucky boy and be reinstated.

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