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It’s 25 years since voters in Wales first elected members to the Welsh parliament.

Devolution expert Professor Laura McAllister told Sky News that a lot had changed in the quarter of a century since the Senedd‘s first election.

A referendum was held in 1997 to create the previously named Welsh Assembly, with 50.3% of voters backing its creation.

The inaugural election took place two years later on 6 May 1999.

Prof McAllister, from Cardiff University’s Welsh governance centre, said it had been a “rollercoaster ride” for Welsh devolution over the last quarter of a century – as plans look set to be approved to increase the number of members from 60 to 96.

Professor Laura McAllister
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Professor Laura McAllister

The initial set-up was “very much like a local authority”, Prof McAllister said, but it had now become a “fully-fledged parliament with fiscal and financial powers”.

“I think Welsh devolution has changed more than any other devolved model of governance in the UK because it came from such a low base,” she added.

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“At the very least the expansion of the Senedd to 96 [members] will make it fit for purpose.

“What the Senedd itself does, and the parties do with that, is the issue for debate. And they really need to take this seriously.”

‘Turnout remains low’

A further referendum was held in 2011, with 63.5% of voters supporting more powers for the Senedd.

But despite the changes in the last 25 years, challenges remain in terms of voter engagement.

“Turnout still remains low for Senedd elections, despite having had a quarter of a century of seeing what a Welsh government can or cannot do,” Professor McAllister added.

“We still have the same political party in power, and indeed Welsh Labour has been in power throughout the history of devolution, albeit sharing power at different times with different parties.”

The latest polling from Redfield and Wilton shows 55% of people in Wales support the Welsh parliament, while 32% think Wales shouldn’t have its own. 12% said they didn’t know.

The same polling shows 30% of Welsh voters would back independence for Wales, while 58% would oppose such a move.

Welsh Street
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Welsh Street

Sky News sought the views of people on Welsh Street in the town of Chepstow, Monmouthshire.

Garry Davies said people in the area “don’t really know what goes on in the Senedd” and felt “left out”.

Duncan Farron said he was “not a fan” of devolution.

“I just think it’s another tier of government that we don’t need really,” he added.

But Leila Phillips, who works in education, said there were “advantages” to having policy areas devolved to Wales.

“There are advantages because Wales has gone through the new curriculum, which is really fantastic actually, and England is still lagging behind that. So there are advantages as well,” she said.

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Prof McAllister points out that most people in Wales support the institution, even if they don’t agree with the decisions taken by the government of the day in Cardiff.

“The common ground is in the middle where people support devolution, they might not support what Welsh government does,” she said.

“[But] if people don’t support a Conservative government in Westminster, they don’t call for the abolition of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.”

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‘I was told this was a wonder drug but not warned about the deathly consequences’: 100 faces of infected blood scandal

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'I was told this was a wonder drug but not warned about the deathly consequences': 100 faces of infected blood scandal

“Losing Gary, my soul mate, was beyond painful,” says Kathryn Croucher, whose husband died aged 42 in 2010.

“Every day was a struggle dealing with the knowledge he was HIV and Hepatitis C positive.”

“Mum always said she was given a death sentence,” recalls Ronan Fitzgerald. His mother, Jane, died aged 54 after being infected with Hepatitis C when she was 16. “It was a ticking time bomb.”

Updates:
Scandal was ‘not an accident’
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The faces of the infected blood scandal.

More than 30,000 Britons were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C after being given contaminated blood products in the 1970s and 1980s.

Around 3,000 people have died as a result of the scandal, while many more still live under the shadow of health problems, debilitating treatments and stigma. Now, the findings of a public inquiry, first announced in 2017, will finally be published.

These are 100 faces of infected blood victims that either they, or their families, have shared with Sky News.

Click the images to read their stories.

Sky News will have full coverage of the infected blood report on TV, online and on the Sky News app today.

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Sky News would like to thank everyone who contributed to this project.

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Julian Assange wins High Court bid to bring appeal against extradition to US

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Julian Assange wins High Court bid to bring appeal against extradition to US

Julian Assange will be allowed to appeal against his extradition to the United States.

Two judges responded today to US assurances that Mr Assange will not face the death penalty – and can rely on the First Amendment right to free speech if he faced a trial for spying.

The WikiLeaks founder faces prosecution in the US over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information after the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2017. Pic: Reuters
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2017. Pic: Reuters

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a police van after being arrested in London in 2019. Pic: Reuters
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a police van after being arrested in London in 2019. Pic: Reuters

Edward Fitzgerald KC, representing Assange, criticised the assurances of Joe Biden’s US administration at the hearing. He said: “Based on the principle of the separation of powers, the US court can and will apply US law, whatever the executive may say or do.”

He added most of the promises were “blatantly inadequate” – but they had accepted the promise about the death penalty.

In written submissions, the barrister said while the assurance over the death penalty was “an unambiguous executive promise”, the other assurance does not give “any reliable promise as to future action”.

The barrister added: “What needs to be conclusively removed is the risk that he will be prevented from relying on the first amendment on grounds of nationality.”

But James Lewis KC, representing the US government, insisted the “judicial branch of the United States will take due notice of this solemn assurance given by its government in the course of international relations”.

In written submissions, he said there is “no question” that Assange, if extradited, “will be entitled to the full panoply of due process trial rights, including the right to raise, and seek to rely upon, the first amendment as a defence”.

He later told the court: “The assurance does make it clear that he will not be discriminated against because of his nationality.

“He can and will be able to raise all those arguments and his nationality will not prejudice a fair trial.”

Today’s decision is the latest chapter in 13 years of legal battles and detentions for Australian-born Mr Assange.

A woman attends a protest outside the High Court on the day of an extradition hearing of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in London, Britain, May 20, 2024. REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska
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Supporters of Mr Assange have been gathering outside the High Court. Pic: Reuters

A police officers looks on near a placard outside of the Royal Court of Justice.
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Pic: Reuters

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The US authorities want to put Mr Assange on trial over 18 charges, nearly all under the Espionage Act.

They claim his actions with WikiLeaks were reckless, damaged national security, and endangered the lives of agents.

During a two-day hearing in February, lawyers for Mr Assange asked for permission to challenge a judge’s dismissal of the majority of his case to prevent his extradition.

In March, Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson dismissed most of Mr Assange’s legal arguments – but said unless assurances were given by the US, he would be able to bring an appeal on three grounds.

These assurances are that Assange would be protected by and allowed to rely on the First Amendment – which protects freedom of speech in the US – that he is not “prejudiced at trial” due to his nationality, and that the death penalty is not imposed.

People attend a protest outside the High Court 
Pic: Reuters
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Pic: Reuters

People attend a protest outside the High Court
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Pic: Reuters

Supporters of Mr Assange have already been gathering outside the High Court to continue their calls for his release.

Mr Assange is currently being held in London’s high security Belmarsh prison.

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Hunt for two suspects after man dies in Glasgow stabbing

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Hunt for two suspects after man dies in Glasgow stabbing

Detectives are on the hunt for two men following a fatal stabbing in Glasgow at the weekend.

Police Scotland said the force received a report of a man being attacked and stabbed in Saracen Street, Possil, at around 5pm on Saturday.

Emergency services attended and took the 27-year-old victim to the city’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, where he later died.

The death is being treated as “suspicious” ahead of the completion of a post-mortem examination.

Investigating officers have since established that two men were involved in the attack.

The suspects have been described as white and in their 30s.

One was wearing a light-blue top and black shorts, while the other was dressed in a white top, black shorts and black trainers.

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Officers have been gathering and reviewing CCTV footage from in and around the neighbourhood as the probe continues.

Additional patrols have also been mobilised to the area, and anyone with information or concerns can approach these officers.

Read more from Sky News:
The stories behind 100 victims of infected blood scandal
Probe launched after man dies in police custody

Detective Inspector Lesley-Ann McGee said: “It was a warm, sunny day and there were lots of people out enjoying the weather in Saracen.

“I am asking them to get in touch with us with any information that could assist us in establishing the motive for this attack. If you saw, heard or know anything please contact us.

“I’m also asking people with dashcam or doorbell recording equipment to check for any footage that could assist our investigation.

“A family is mourning the loss of a loved one and it’s imperative we are able to answer how their loved one died.”

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