THE family of Carl Sargeant have said revealed that, two years after his death, their grief "remains on hold because of political points scoring and game-playing" reminiscent of a plot from a TV political drama.

In a statement, Mr Sargeant's wife Bernie and their children Lucy and Jack say the Welsh Government has "failed" them, while Neil Hudgell - of Hudgell Solicitors, the firm representing the family - says the way they have been treated "by those in the higher positions of government" has been "a national scandal".

Mr Sargeant, 49, AM for Alyn and Deeside, killed himself on November 7, 2017, four days after being sacked from his Welsh Government role as cabinet secretary for communities and children following allegations of misconduct involving women.

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A conclusion of suicide was recorded by the North Wales coroner John Gittins in July this year, following a high-profile inquest.

An independent inquiry was instigated in the aftermath of Mr Sargeant's death, but his family mounted a High Court challenge over the legality of its organisation.

The court ruled last March that former first minister Carwyn Jones acted unlawfully over the way the inquiry was set up.

In their statement today, the Sargeant family said: “If anyone would have told us two years ago that this is where we’d be, we wouldn’t have believed them.

"Our grief remains on hold because of political point scoring and game-playing. At times it has felt like we are part of a House of Cards plot.

“Just four days after Carl’s death the Welsh Government told us they would be transparent about the circumstances that led up to his death. We trusted them, but they have failed us.

"Surely, it’s not too much to ask for some transparency out of respect for the many years of service Carl gave the government and the people of Wales?"

They continued the inquest had not given them "answers or closure", and instead described it as "a dehumanising and wholly confrontational process, which went on far longer than it should have because of the way in which the lawyers, paid for by the people of Wales and instructed by the Welsh Government and former first minister, conducted themselves".

“At times, the inquest felt like a trial and we all suffered, and continue to do so, as a result," they said.

"Yet, the coroner’s prevention of future deaths report gave us some comfort. Despite the former first minister claiming that he couldn’t have done any more to help Carl, the coroner disagreed, and his findings say to us that the response by the former first minister and his colleagues was inadequate.

"It’s not too late for the former first minister to agree with the coroner and admit that mistakes were made. It remains a matter of great upset and offence that he hasn’t been able to do that.

“We naively thought that we’d have the answers we seek by now and that we’d be on the long road to getting back to a more normal life. Yet, it’s almost 2020 and there has been no inquiry into the way Carl’s removal from office was handled. And while we have faith in the inquiry chair Paul Bowen, we have no faith in his remit."

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But, two years to the day since Mr Sargeant died, the family said they had "been shown the most extraordinary kindness from our local community and people across Wales".

"We’d particularly like to thank all those people who have come forward with lovely stories about Carl," they said. "It has meant more than we can properly express.

“We’ll be spending the day quietly, reflecting on what we have lost but also remembering with love and fondness a great husband, father, brother, uncle and son. If anyone wants to do anything to remember Carl, we’d say this - be kind and remember that words matter. We’re living in a politically uncertain time, but we should all try to commit to being kinder, it might just save a life.”

Neil Hudgell said the Sargeant family has for two years been let down "by those in the highest positions in government, from those early days after Carl’s death, through to the highly adversarial inquest process, the seemingly constant legal challenges to the inquiry through to the present delays on lifting the suspension on the inquiry.

"The legal trickery at play has been astounding. It’s a national scandal.

“We want the family to be allowed their own legal representation at the inquiry. This will enable them to have a barrister cross-examine witnesses. It is also essential that the inquiry has the power to compel witnesses to attend.

"Not doing so will mean the inquiry lacks teeth. It will be a whitewash and we won’t be part of that. It would serve no one, except perhaps the former first minister.

"I urge the first minister to mark Carl’s anniversary by lifting the suspension on the inquiry so that a meaningful investigation can get under way. We’re ready.”

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “As the first minister said in the Senedd on Tuesday, Carl Sargeant and the Sargeant family remain in our thoughts following his untimely death two years ago.

"Following the conclusion of the inquest, the first minister said he would have discussions with the family to seek their views about the next steps in the inquiry process. It would therefore not be appropriate to comment further.”