FORMER Welsh Office minister Rod Richards could face assault charges after allegedly punching a Conservative Party canvasser on the doorstep of his Cardiff home yesterday.
The ex-leader of the Welsh Tories, once dubbed "The Rottweiler" for his fiery style, was held overnight at Fairwater Police Station and was set to be grilled by officers today over the incident.
The 61-year-old former army intelligence officer, who rang our offices last night before being taken into custody, said the fracas occurred after his Fairwater address was visited by four Tory local council election campaigners.
He said: "When I opened the door one of them said he didn’t need to speak to me because another party worker had spoken to me a few days before. I told him that wasn’t the case and we got into an argument."
Mr Richards then claimed that the party volunteer subsequently pushed him to the ground, badly injuring one of his fingers, before he managed to get back on his feet to punch him.
The arrest marks yet another low for Mr Richards, whose political career was considered chequered at best.
In 1996 he resigned from the post of Welsh Office Minister after the tabloids exposed his affair with an animal welfare lobbyist, shortly before losing his seat as MP for Clwyd North to Labour in the 1997 General Election.
He later stood down as leader of the Welsh Tories in 1999 to contest allegations that he assaulted a woman he’d met in a London pub after taking her out for a meal. He was charged with causing grievous bodily harm and had to wait almost a year before being acquitted in a Crown Court trial.
Mr Richards then resigned from the Assembly altogether in 2002 on health grounds and went into rehab in Scotland to treat his alcohol addiction.
Not long after that he was declared bankrupt, his financial problems having accelerated after the tenant renting the pub he owned at Ystradgynlais, Powys, disappeared owing him £10,000. Mr Richards obtained a court order against the tenant, but none of the money has been recovered.
There was no comment from the Welsh Conservative Party at the time of going to press other than to confirm an allegation of assault had been made by one of the party workers against Mr Richards.