Michelle Brown

A UKIP AM's appeal against a ruling by the Welsh Assembly standards committee that she should face a week's exclusion without pay over a racist slur against a Labour MP has been thrown out.

The committee had ruled Michelle Brown committed a "severe breach" of the code of conduct when she made the comment.

But the appeal ruled that Ms Brown failed to argue the decision was flawed.

The matter is expected to be put before AMs for a final decision on 2 May.

Ms Brown called the Labour MP for Streatham, Chuka Umunna, a "coconut" in a phone call in May 2016 to her then senior adviser Nigel Williams, which he released a recording of to the Daily Post newspaper last summer.

In February BBC Wales revealed the standards committee had decided that Ms Brown should face a week's exclusion over the slur.

AMs on the committee, including UKIP's Gareth Bennett, had said it was a term of "racial abuse" that was "utterly unacceptable", following an investigation by the Standards Commissioner Sir Roderick Evans.

Ms Brown has previously apologised for any offence caused.

Following the decision Ms Brown appealed against the decision, arguing among other grounds that no evidence was provided that the term coconut was racist, or was provided that the assembly has been brought into disrepute.

She also argued that the leaking of the report to BBC Wales had "prejudiced her case".

Appeals over standards committee decisions can be made on the grounds of factual inaccuracies, or procedural irregularities.

Sir John Griffith Williams, a retired High Court judge who was asked to look into the appeal, suggested that while Ms Brown had restated her case she did not argue that the decision was flawed.

He said her grounds for appeal did not raise any points on whether "there were any procedural irregularities in the formal investigation or in the referral process to the Commission".

Sir John continued: "The disclosure of the committee's report to the BBC was again an action out with the complaint procedure and so is not arguably a procedural irregularity."

The report added that UKIP Wales leader Neil Hamilton "was permitted to present Ms Brown's appeal and to argue her case at length, both in writing and orally in what I am satisfied was a clear breach of the procedure".

'News to us'

A spokesman for Michelle Brown told BBC Wales that the first he and Ms Brown heard that the appeal had failed was after it contacted him for a comment.

"This is news to us," he said.

"It would have been nice if the assembly had told us the appeal has been turned down, but they haven't."