A former Welsh secretary has been cleared of breaking the ministerial code over claims he knew about a former aide’s role in a collapsed rape trial.
An inquiry found it “unlikely” Alun Cairns had not been told something about Ross England’s role as a witness.
But Mr Cairns insisted he did not know the details of the case, and an advisor concluded there was no evidence to contradict that position.
The MP resigned from the cabinet ahead of the general election.
The position of Welsh secretary remained vacant during the campaign, in which Mr Cairns successfully defended his Vale of Glamorgan seat.
However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson named Simon Hart as the new Welsh secretary following the Conservative victory.
In his resignation letter to the prime minister in November, Mr Cairns said: “I will co-operate in full with the investigation under the ministerial code which will now take place and I am confident I will be cleared of any breach or wrong-doing.”
In April 2018, at the rape trial of James Hackett, the defendant’s friend Ross England told Cardiff Crown Court he had a casual sexual relationship with the complainant – which she denied – despite the judge making it clear that evidence of the sexual history of the victim was inadmissible.
Judge Stephen John Hopkins QC said to him: “Why did you say that? Are you completely stupid?
“You have managed single-handed, and I have no doubt it was deliberate on your part, to sabotage this trial… get out of my court.”
Hackett was subsequently convicted of rape at a retrial.
Mr England was chosen in December 2018 as the Vale of Glamorgan candidate for the 2021 Welsh assembly election.
At the time of his selection, Mr Cairns endorsed Mr England as a “friend and colleague” with whom “it will be a pleasure to campaign”.
BBC Wales discovered an email sent on 2 August 2018 to Mr Cairns by Geraint Evans, his special adviser. It was also copied to Richard Minshull – the director of the Welsh Conservatives – and another member of staff.
It said: “I have spoken to Ross and he is confident no action will be taken by the court.”
In October, when the story came to light, Welsh Conservative party chairman Lord Davies of Gower said he could “categorically state” he and Mr Cairns were “completely unaware of the details of the collapse of this trial until they became public”.
Mr England was suspended as a candidate and as an employee after details of the court case emerged, with the party saying a full investigation would be conducted.
The rape victim previously said Mr England’s selection “shows how little respect they have for me” and she called for Mr Cairns to quit.
A UK Government Cabinet Office investigation was launched following Mr Cairns’ resignation from Boris Johnson’s cabinet in November.
Sir Alex Allan, the prime minister’s independent adviser on ministerial standards, has concluded that the evidence does not uphold the allegations against Mr Cairns.
In his report, Sir Alex said: “The issue for the Ministerial Code is whether Mr Cairns’ statement that he ‘had no knowledge of the role of Ross England’ in the collapse of the trial was true, and hence whether or not Mr Cairns breached the requirement to observe the principle that ‘Holders of public office should be truthful’.”
He found that Mr Cairns knew about the collapse of the trial, but that staff and advisers all stated they had not informed the MP about Mr England’s direct role.
“On that basis, I do not find that the evidence upholds the allegations of a breach of the Ministerial Code,” he added.
The rape victim told BBC Wales that she was “disappointed but not surprised” by the investigation’s conclusion.