- Government minister Alun Cairns quits on the day of the Conservative party’s election campaign launch.
- Cairns resigned as Boris Johnson’s Wales Secretary amid claims that he was aware of the role his former aide played in a rape case that was “sabotaged” last year.
- Cairns denied having knowledge of the incident when his former aide, Ross England, was nominated to stand as a Welsh Assembly candidate.
- However, the BBC has seen emails which suggest otherwise.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Cabinet minister Alun Cairns has quit on the day that Boris Johnson launched his general election campaign.
Cairns announced his resignation as Wales Secretary on Wednesday amid claims that he was aware of the role his former aide played in a “sabotaged” rape trial last year.
Ross England, who is now a Conservative member of the Welsh Assembly, made claims about a victim’s sexual history in an April 2018 trial which caused the case to collapse.
England told the court that he had been in a casual sexual relationship with the victim, despite the judge warning that evidence of the victim’s sexual history was inadmissible.
Judge Stephen John Hopkins told him: “Why did you say that? Are you completely stupid?
“You have managed single-handed, and I have no doubt it was deliberate on your part, to sabotage this trial… get out of my court.”
Cairns denied having knowledge of this incident when England was nominated to stand as an assembly election candidate in December 2018.
However, BBC Wales reported that he was told about the incident in an email sent four months prior to this, in August 2018.
The rape victim on Tuesday said Cairns should resign from government.
In a letter to the prime minister, Cairns wrote: “You will be aware of allegations relating to the actions of a party employee and candidate for the Welsh assembly elections in the Vale of Glamorgan.
“This is a very sensitive matter, and in light of continued speculation, I write to tender my resignation as secretary of state for Wales.
“I will co-operate in full with the investigation under the Ministerial Code which will now take place and I am confident I will be cleared of any breach or wrongdoing.”
—Matt Honeycombe-Foster (@matt_hfoster) November 6, 2019
Johnson’s campaign gets off to a rocky start
Cairns’ resignation is the latest episode in a difficult few days for the prime minister as he launches his general election campaign.
House of Commons Speaker Jacob Rees-Mogg was forced to apologise this week after suggesting victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster lacked “common sense.”
On Tuesday, Sky News host Kay Burley empty-chaired Conservative party chairman James Cleverly, who she said was scheduled to appear on the show and discuss Cairns, Rees-Mogg and other issues.
The prime minister tried to get his campaign back on track with a statement outside on Downing Street on Wednesday afternoon.
He said he did not “want an early election” but “we’ve got to the stage where we have no choice because our Parliament is paralysed, it’s been stuck in a rut for three and a half years.”
Johnson said a majority Conservative government would “get Brexit done” by getting his withrawal deal with the European Union through the House of Commons.
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