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EDITIONS
Monday, 10 February, 2003, 16:27 GMT
Rod Richards declared bankrupt
Rod Richards (left)
Rod Richards (left) stood down as an AM
Former Tory assembly group leader and Welsh Office minister Rod Richards has been declared bankrupt.

At a hearing at the High Court in London, evidence was heard that 55-year-old Mr Richards had debts estimated at more than 300,000.

Welsh Assembly chamber in Cardiff Bay
Mr Richards quit his seat in the assembly

The High Court was told that the former AM for north Wales had failed to repay money loaned to him to refurbish a pub in Ystradgynlais, Powys, mid Wales.

Mr Richards - who also owed money to Barclays Bank and other creditors - said he was disappointed with the outcome.

He said he was now considering his options and viewing his future with more "humility".

The brewers Whitbread - who have since been taken over by Interbrew - brought the case against Mr Richards, who will now be barred under bankruptcy rules from re-entering politics.

He had originally promised to pay 30,000 to his creditors but failed to do so.

Cleared of assault

The registrar at the hearing said this was a deliberate breach of the agreement he had made to pay off his debts.

Mr Richards was MP for Clwyd West between 1992 and 1997 and was forced to quit his ministerial post in John Major's government over allegations about his private life.

He went on to lead the Tories in the assembly, but stood down after he was accused of assaulting a young woman.

Mr Richards was subsequently cleared of assault, but after admitting to problems of alcoholism, he resigned from his seat in the assembly last September.

The decision brought to an end one of the most colourful careers in Welsh politics.

Political background

Speaking back in January last year, he said: "If I don't dry out, I will die. I know I am killing myself. I am not eating. I can't eat...

"I have a condition - an illness, if you like. I will take advice on whether I need to go in to a clinic in order to dry out; it is possible I will need to.

"I have screwed up my political life."

Originally from Llanelli, Mr Richards first rose to public prominence in the 1980s as a Welsh-language newsreader for BBC Wales.

Before that, he had spent some time in the Royal Marines including serving in Northern Ireland.

He first tried to enter parliament in 1987, unsuccessfully contesting the Carmarthen seat, and two years later a by-election for the Vale of Glamorgan.

In 1992, he was elected as MP for the former parliamentary seat of Clwyd North West and served for five years until the Labour landslide in the 1997 general election.

Although defeated in his constituency seat during the first Welsh Assembly elections in 1999, he was elected to the new body as lead candidate on the Conservatives' regional top-up list.

Bankrupts lose control of their assets, which are used to pay off creditors. They face severe restrictions in what they can do in business and cannot hold some public offices - they cannot be a Member of Parliament.


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