A CONSERVATIVE Assembly candidate has been suspended after “singlehandedly and deliberately sabotaging a rape trial” in which he knew the defendant.

Ross England, who is due to stand for the Conservatives in the Vale of Glamorgan in the 2021 Assembly election, was criticised by a judge at Cardiff Crown Court for his evidence at a rape trial - which was subsequently abandoned.

He was advised to leave after what has been referred to as a ‘disclosure issue’.

On Wednesday evening, Chairman of the Welsh Conservatives, Byron Davies said in a statement: “Ross England has been suspended pending this matter being presented to the candidates committee.”

Mr England’s remarks – relating to the sexual history of the victim - were made during the trial in April 2018, but reporting has been restricted until now due to an ongoing legal appeal.

The case had to be ended early and a retrial took place six months later, when the victim gave evidence for a second time.

The defendant in the case, James Hackett, was found guilty and received a five-year prison sentence.

Mr England’s evidence was ruled to have breached an earlier ruling by the judge. He was told to leave court and the case was subsequently abandoned.

Despite his actions, Mr England was selected as an Assembly candidate in the December of that year.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday, October 30, Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens said: “Yesterday it was reported that a former staff member of the Secretary of State for Wales, Ross England, had, in the words of a trial judge “singlehandedly and deliberately sabotaged a rape trial” by referring to the victims sexual history against the judge’s instructions.

“The trial had to be stopped and started again from scratch and the defendant was convicted.

“Unbelievably, the party opposite then selected Mr England as a Welsh Assembly candidate with the Secretary of State’s endorsement.

“Is the Prime Minister going to sack Mr England?”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in response: “Mr Speaker, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”

Legal proceedings have however, concluded in the case.

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns, in a press release, welcomed his selection, describing their relationship as that of “friends and colleagues”.

The Barry and District News asked Mr Cairns whether any further action would be taken with regard to the new information having to come to light.

A spokesman for Mr Cairns said: “Mr Cairns did not receive communication from a trial judge or legal representatives.”