Thursday, October 29, 1998 Published at 23:05 GMT
Davies quits as assembly candidate
Ron Davies has not been seen at his Caerphilly home
By Political Correspondent Nick Assinder
Former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies has quit as Labour's candidate to become the first secretary of Wales.
Labour MP for Cardiff West Rhodri Morgan, Mr Davies's main challenger to become the leader of the assembly in the recent selection process has once more put his hat in the ring should the selection process be reopened.
It was clear both the national party and even his local constituency had withdrawn their support for him after he failed to clear up the mystery surrounding his "lapse of judgement" on Clapham Common on Monday night.
A huge question mark remains over exactly what happened on the evening of October 26 when he was allegedly mugged after an encounter with a man on London's Clapham Common.
Mr Davies's car was stolen after he was engaged in conversation with a stranger after dark and met up with two of the man's friends. He insists that he was a victim of a crime but gave no more explanation as to why he resigned.
The former minister was attending an identity parade at Brixton police station as the news broke on Thursday night.
A fifth person was arrested in connection with the robbery on Thursday night. Earlier, police arrested a fourth suspect in Brixton.
Three people who were arrested in connection with the alleged mugging on Wednesday have been released on police bail after Mr Davies's car was found in a street in Brixton, South London.
It is also likely that Mr Davies will be questioned again by police over the incident on Clapham Common.
Tough it out
There had been speculation that Mr Davies wanted to "tough it out" and was relying on his local party's loyalty and reluctance to bow to Downing Street pressure on him to quit.
They wanted to know why he should be allowed to stay as their leader and candidate for Wales's first 'prime minister' when he had decided his lapse of judgement was serious enough to warrant his resignation from the cabinet.
He will meet his local party face to face on Friday for the first time since he was mugged in mysterious circumstances on Monday night.
But there was mounting pressure on him to quit, and Downing Street has been markedly reluctant to throw its weight behind him.
Mr Blair spoke to him on the telephone and told a cabinet meeting that he was saddened by his resignation.
Sticking by him
He also said it was right Mr Davies should discuss his future with his family before making a decision.
"We think he has dealt with the issue with great dignity.
"What we have to do now is to take stock and move forward in order to address the real issues that the people of Wales want us to address, both in government and in the run-up to the assembly."
There had been speculation the leader of Labour's Euro-MPs, Wayne David, might be brought in by the party as a replacement for Mr Davies.
Earlier, senior members of Mr Davies's local party were sticking with him.
The Chairman of his Caerphilly party, Elwyn Morgan, pledged his backing but said he hoped the MP would use the local meeting to clear up uncertainty and end rumours about the incident on Monday night.
But Welsh Euro-MP David Morris said he believed Mr Davies had no option but to quit. "I think now, because of the rumours that are circulating, because it appears that he hasn't got confidence in his own people to share with them what he has done, I believe he is losing sympathy," he said.
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