Statement on the Suspension of Rhys ab Owen MS

The allegations against Rhys ab Owen MS are deeply concerning. The Senedd’s Code of Conduct sets a standard that all Members should conduct themselves to. A report by the Standards of Conduct Committee has found that Rhys ab Owen MS has fallen short of these standards. When this standard isn’t upheld there needs to be swift and meaningful action to hold each and every transgression to account. We are pleased to see that whilst the time since the incident occurred is significant, the Senedd has taken action to suspend Rhys ab Owen MS for six-weeks. However, we do believe that a six-week suspension is not sufficient.

There is a need for stringent measures to address issues of harassment and abuse, particularly within political institutions. It is essential that all individuals, regardless of their position or influence, are held accountable for their actions. Moreover, there must be comprehensive support mechanisms in place for survivors to come forward safely and receive the assistance they need, which has been seen to fall short in this instance. The revelation that the party failed to exercise measures to effectively safeguard victims and instead, shockingly, provided a complainant’s phone number to Mr. ab Owen is troubling. When complaints are mishandled in this way, it can send a dangerous message to survivors.

Welsh Women’s Aid recognises that all survivors can face lifelong impacts following abuse, and workplace harassment or harassment in public spaces are not a lesser form of violence against women and girls. Although Plaid Cymru have recently agreed to adopt the TUC Cymru’s Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Toolkit, co-authored by Welsh Women’s Aid, it is vital that we see a comprehensive commitment to further prevention measures and improved training on violence against women for all Senedd Members to address these issues effectively.

Nobody should be exempt from appropriate consequence, especially those in positions of power. The new Senedd reforms offer Welsh Parliament the opportunity to put proper measures of accountability in place. A recall mechanism like that seen in Westminster would allow for greater accountability via offering constituents a petition to trigger a by-election.

Trust will only be built with full transparency that leads to demonstrable, sustainable change. Women, and especially survivors of male violence, should not only feel confident in reporting, but they should also feel fully supported and empowered by the process. This is the change we expect to see within all institutions of power.

We stand firm in our commitment to the safety and well-being of all individuals, particularly those who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing gender-based violence and harassment. It is imperative that any instances of misconduct be swiftly and decisively dealt with to ensure accountability and justice for survivors.


Anyone experiencing violence against women, domestic abuse or sexual violence, or abuse, or those concerned about somebody at risk – support is available to you now. Live Fear Free is a confidential and independent helpline that can provide advice and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 0808 80 10 800 / text 07860077333 / email [email protected].”

ENDS. For more information, please contact Stephanie Grimshaw, Head of Public Affairs and Communications on [email protected]