A UK cabinet minister has quit after claims he knew about a former aide’s role in the “sabotage” of a rape trial.
Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns denied knowing Tory assembly candidate Ross England made claims about the victim’s sexual history in the April 2018 trial.
But BBC Wales discovered Mr Cairns was emailed about it in August 2018 – four months before Mr England was chosen as Vale of Glamorgan candidate.
Mr Cairns had been a cabinet member since being appointed in 2016.
The Conservative Vale of Glamorgan MP said he only became aware of Mr England’s role in the trial’s collapse when the story broke last week.
In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mr Cairns – who was MP for Vale of Glamorgan – said: “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 wrong doing.”
In his response, Mr Johnson said he was “extremely grateful for all the work you have done in the role as Secretary of State since March 2016”.
He added: “In particular, I would like to put on record my gratitude for all the support you have given to this government in ensuring we honour the commitment to the people that we leave the European Union.
“Given your long service as Secretary of State, you can be proud of your record of delivery for the people of Wales, in particular in ensuring the abolition of tolls on the Severn bridges.”
Mr England, who was selected as the candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan, said he had given an “honest answer” while giving evidence at the rape trial of his friend James Hackett.
He told the court he had a casual sexual relationship with the complainant – which she denied – despite the judge making it clear that evidence of the sexual history of the victim was inadmissible.
Judge Stephen John Hopkins QC said to 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.”
Hackett was subsequently convicted of rape at a retrial.
Mr England was suspended as a candidate and as an employee last week after details of the court case emerged and the party said a “full investigation will be conducted”.