Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has said he acted “by the book” and had “no alternative” but to take the action he did over allegations of inappropriate behaviour against tragic assembly member Carl Sargeant.

Mr Jones faced calls to quit after Mr Sargeant’s family claimed the former Welsh government minister, who took his own life on Tuesday, had been denied “natural justice” because he was unaware of the detailed nature of the allegations against him.

Mr Sargeant, 49, died four days after being sacked as communities and children’s minister in the devolved administration. He was suspended from the Labour Party.

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Mr Jones was emotional as he paid tribute to his “friend”, who he said was “a person of great warmth, ability and charisma”.

“These are the darkest days any of us can remember in this institution, but they are darkest of all for the family,” he said.

Mr Jones, who was speaking following a meeting of Welsh Labour Assembly members to discuss the situation, said: “I did all that I could to make sure that everything was done by the book. I had no alternative but to take the action that I did.”

Mr Sargeant was facing allegations of “unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping” at the time of his death.

The Alyn and Deeside AM’s family said Mr Sargeant’s distress at being unable to defend himself properly meant he was not afforded “common courtesy, decency or natural justice”.

Bernie Attridge, deputy leader of Flintshire County Council in Mr Sargeant’s home town, Connah’s Quay, demanded Mr Jones quit, adding: “The way you have treated Carl is unforgivable, you make me sick.”