Labour politician feared assault by fellow Senedd member Neil McEvoy

Labour politician feared assault by fellow Senedd member Neil McEvoy

A Labour politician has said he feared being assaulted by a fellow Member of the Senedd (MS) after an incident in the Welsh Parliament last year.

On Wednesday night the body voted to ban Neil McEvoy from the Senedd until 21 January after a committee found he had been physically aggressive towards Labour’s Mick Antoniw.

The decision means Mr McEvoy will have his salary cut.

Mr McEvoy claimed he was being punished for something that was not true.

But the Pontypridd MS said he was worried he could be “accosted or assaulted” by Mr McEvoy for months after the incident.

The standards committee of the Senedd found that Mr McEvoy committed a “severe breach” of the code of conduct and showed “contempt” for colleagues when Mr McEvoy remonstrated with Mr Antoniw in May 2019.

Their findings followed an investigation by former Standards Commissioner Sir Roderick Evans into the incident, which took place within and just outside the Senedd’s debating chamber.

Six members of staff had given evidence about the incident.

Mr Antoniw, who had complained to Sir Roderick, said Mr McEvoy had approached him in an “aggressive manner and raised voice”, telling him “You’re a coward in your big group, I will get you”.

One witness said it “looked as though Neil was going to punch Mick”.

In the Senedd on Wednesday Mr Antoniw said: “For months after I will always ensure when walking to the chamber that those in the company of others or alert to the space around me, in the event that I would be accosted or assaulted by the member.

“This is what I expected from a member of this Senedd who told me he would get me – a threat I take very seriously.”

Mr Antoniw accused Mr McEvoy of publicly attacking “the integrity of the report of the committee, the independent witnesses, and also myself”.

“In almost Trumpian style in his social media he suggests the committee is victimising him for being a Welsh-born person of colour.”

He said it was a “false and reprehensible attempt to distract attention”.

He said Mr McEvoy had proven to be a “serial bully and aggressor”, and said his conduct had an “adverse effect on individual employees of this place”.

Mr McEvoy told the Senedd that he was “going to be suspended for something that I’ve not done”.

The Welsh Nation Party MS for South Wales Central claimed CCTV footage of the incident outside the Senedd chamber showed “that statements were either embellished or simply made up”.

“The Standards Committee refused to view the CCTV,” he said.

“If you view the unedited version from the Senedd, there was no finger pointing. I was not in Mick Antoniw’s face. That was untrue.

“Mick Antoniw alleged that I aggressively went towards him in an aggressive manner. Well, the CCTV shows that didn’t happen and I actually held the door open for Mick Antoniw.”

“As a person of colour, and all you guys out there, all you people of colour out there, will know what I’m saying, I’m used to this treatment.,” he added.

The committee, in its report, said it decided not to view the footage on data protection grounds and was “persuaded on the balance of evidence”.

The commissioner, the report said, found enough evidence to support the complaint without needing to rely on CCTV footage.

The motion to exclude Mr McEvoy from the Senedd for 21 days – which with recess runs until midnight on 21 January – passed with 45 Senedd members supporting it, versus six against.

Labour, Plaid Cymru and Conservative members voted for the motion, although Labour’s Rhianon Passmore abstained alongside former UKIP MS Michelle Brown.

The six to vote against were Reform group members Caroline Jones and Mandy Jones, Abolish the Assembly’s Gareth Bennett and Mark Reckless, UKIP’s Neil Hamilton and Neil McEvoy.

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