Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 15:06 UK

Lib Dem German to quit in autumn

Mike German
Mike German will remain an AM, but will no longer lead the Welsh Lib Dems

Welsh Lib Dem leader Mike German has announced he will stand down after the party's autumn conference in October.

He has led the Lib Dems in the Welsh assembly since 1999 and is the only original party leader remaining there since the institution was created.

Mr German faced criticism after the Lib Dems failed to increase their number of seats in last year's assembly election.

But the party won crucial extra council seats last week and could have a key role in up 12 of the 22 Welsh councils.

Mr German, who was 63 on Tuesday, said in a statement: "I have received a request from party officers that I should allow the party to complete the (Welsh Lib Dem) president's review of the constitution, including the rules for electing the leaders of the party, before I resign as leader.

"I have taken soundings within the party and the assembly group, and feel this is a sensible way forward.

"I said earlier in the year that I would stand down when it was sensible and practical to do so, and having received this request from the party's senior officers, I have decided that I will resign following the debate on the constitution at our autumn conference."

Insufficient evidence

Mr German became deputy first minister to Rhodri Morgan when the Lib Dems joined Labour in coalition in the assembly government between 2000 and 2003.

Within a year he was forced to step aside from the role temporarily while police investigated allegations involving his previous role as head of the European unit of the Welsh exam board, the WJEC.

After a year-long inquiry, the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to press criminal charges.

Mr German always denied any wrong-doing and blamed the origins of the investigation on a politically motivated witch-hunt by Labour local government barons who opposed his party's deal with Labour in Cardiff Bay.

So what has happened to the other party leaders who were there when the assembly first sat in May 1999?

Vote of confidence

Labour's first post-devolution leader, Alun Michael, resigned from his position as first secretary in February 2000 before having to face a vote of confidence in his leadership.

He was replaced by current first minister and Welsh Labour leader Rhodri Morgan. Mr Michael held various ministerial posts under Tony Blair and remains Cardiff South and Penarth MP.

Conservative group leader Rod Richards resigned to fight allegations of assaulting a young woman in south London, allowing Nick Bourne to take over the Tory helm in August 1999.

A jury found Mr Richards not guilty but, in a row with the party leadership, he lost the party whip and sat in the assembly chamber as an independent Conservative.

Mr Richards resigned as an AM in September 2002 on health grounds as he battled with alcoholism.

Dafydd Wigley, Plaid Cymru's first assembly group leader, quit the post in May 2000 on health grounds after suffering heart problems.

Mr Wigley is now poised to become a peer after Plaid Cymru agreed to nominate members to the House of Lords for the first time.


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific