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HART UNDER FIRE.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan has given his full support to assembly minister Edwina Hart who was today accused of breaking Government rules in trying to oust a civil servant. HART UNDER FIRE:Welsh Social Justice Minister Edwina Hart was today refusing to respond to allegations that she broke Government rules by demanding the removal of a civil servant from his job.

The Gower MP, who is accused of urging top officials to oust Charles Willie from his role as head of the National Assembly's quality policy unit, was not making any comment today, a senior assembly government spokeswoman said.

'It is a staffing issue and, therefore, a matter for the Permanent Secretary (Jon Shortridge),' she said.

Last year Mr Willie took the assembly to an employment tribunal alleging he had been constructively dismissed from his job after he failed to be re-appointed to head the equality policy unit when the post was re-graded. The assembly denied constructive dismissal. An out-of-tribunal settlement was made.

In a statement, Mr Shortridge said: 'Mr Willie was not constructively dismissed. Ministers had no involvement in the way that external complaints about Mr Willie were handled.

'There was nothing unusual or improper about the way in which the head of the enhanced equality policy division was appointed.'

He added: 'It is misleading to suggest that Mrs Hart urged senior assembly officials to remove Mr Willie from his job.'
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 13, 2004
Words:232
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