Hundreds attend Carl Sargeant funeral

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Image caption Mourners were asked to wear bright clothing to celebrate Carl Sargeant’s life

Hundreds of mourners have gathered for the funeral of ex-Welsh Labour minister Carl Sargeant in Flintshire.

He was found dead days after being sacked by First Minister Carwyn Jones amid allegations about his conduct.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was among politicians who attended from all major parties, with many people gathered outside the church in Connah’s Quay.

Mr Jones had said he would not be going, out of respect for the wishes of the family.

The first minister said he hoped they could “celebrate Carl’s life in peace and without distraction” at the funeral, which took place at St Mark’s Church.

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Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, UKIP Wales leader Neil Hamilton and the assembly’s former presiding officer Lord Elis-Thomas were among those paying their respects.

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Image caption Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (R) and Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami (L) attended the service

Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami, who arrived at the service with Mr Corbyn, said: “It’s been very difficult for everyone.

“The number of people here shows what Carl meant and what he did.”

Flowers and a Newcastle United football shirt were laid on top of Mr Sargeant’s coffin.

Relatives, including his wife Bernie and children Lucy and Jack, wore bright colours, and Mr Sargeant’s dog was also at the service.

The congregation sang the hymns Lord Of The Dance and Sing Hosanna.

In a eulogy, Mr Sargeant’s friend, Daran Hill, praised his kindness.

“If only everyone had shown him the same kindness he showed others,” he said.

Mr Hill urged members of the congregation to hug the person next to them to show the same kindness Mr Sargeant had shown.

He said: “That’s the way Carl Sargeant touched people, in their lives, in their minds, in their hearts, in their souls.”

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Eye-witness: Daniel Davies, BBC Wales political correspondent

A large crowd gathered outside the church on a cold, sunny day in Connah’s Quay, with politicians from all parties in attendance.

At the request of the family, formal dress was not being worn; people were asked to wear white ribbons, the symbol of the campaign to end violence against women.

The order of service included eulogies, hymns and poems, while the entrance music was Home by Michael Buble.

At the end of the service, the congregation sang Dirty Old Town by Ewan MacColl – Mr Sargeant’s favourite karaoke song.

Image copyright Vaughan Gething

Flintshire council deputy leader Bernie Attridge, a lifelong friend of Mr Sargeant, had predicted it would be the biggest funeral held in the church “certainly in my lifetime”.

“Family and friends are not seeing it as a funeral but as a celebration of Carl’s life,” he said,

It is understood Mr Sargeant, 49, took his own life four days after losing his job as cabinet secretary for communities and children over claims of inappropriate behaviour towards women.

He vowed to clear his name but was found dead at his home on 7 November.

Mr Jones said he had no alternative but to remove Mr Sargeant, who was AM for Alyn and Deeside, from his cabinet.

An inquiry into how Mr Jones handled the sacking of his colleague will be held as well as a separate investigation into whether he misled AMs with allegedly differing answers concerning bullying allegations dating back to 2014.

Two former senior government figures have said Mr Sargeant was one of those affected by a bullying culture.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-42183848

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