Senior politician Carl Sargeant has been found dead just days after being sacked from his Welsh Government role and suspended from the Labour Party over allegations about his personal conduct.
The Welsh Assembly member, 49, removed from his cabinet post following allegations from a number of women, is understood to have taken his own life.
Police were called to his home in Connah’s Quay, in Mr Sargeant’s Alyn and Deeside seat, at 11.30am today following a report that a body had been found.
Mr Sargeant was married to Bernie and they had two children, Lucy and Jack.
In a statement the family said: “Carl was a much loved husband, father and friend. He wasn’t simply a part of our family.
“He was the glue that bound us together. He was the heart of our family. We loved him so very much. He was the most kind and caring husband, father, son and friend.
“We are devastated beyond words, and we know our grief will be shared by all those who knew and loved him. We are in shock and grief.”
Supt Mark Pierce of North Wales Police said: “North Wales Police are not treating his death as suspicious and the matter has been referred to HM Coroner.”
Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones, who sacked Mr Sargeant on November 3, said he was “shocked and deeply saddened”.
Mr Sargeant was told about the existence of allegations against him by Mr Jones last week but had not been given details about the claims. He described the allegations as “shocking and distressing” and had hoped for an urgent investigation to give him chance to clear his name.
As the news of his former colleague’s death broke yesterday, Mr Jones said: “Carl was a friend as well as a colleague and I am shocked and deeply saddened by his death.
“He made a big contribution to Welsh public life and fought tirelessly for those he represented both as a minister and as a local assembly member. He will be a great loss both to our party and to the Senedd. My heartfelt sympathies are with his family at this difficult time.”
Proceedings for the rest of the day at Cardiff Bay were cancelled while reaction from his party flooded in.
Childhood friend and fellow Labour Party representative Bernie Attridge wiped away tears as he said: “I’m absolutely distraught. He was a personal friend of mine. I’ve known Carl all my life. We’ve grown up together in Connah’s Quay.
"Today I find myself in very dark days. At the end of the day allegations were made, I’m a great believer you are innocent until proven guilty. I don’t know the details of the suspension, I know he’s a very loyal man.”
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said: “I campaigned with Carl for many years. He was a powerful voice for working people and Wales. He put community at the heart of his politics and was respected by his constituents for it. This is a tragedy beyond words.”