Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lee Barron, Labour's PCC candidate for Northamptonshire, forced to withdraw

The Northampton Chronicle & Echo reports:
The Labour candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections has been forced to quit after it emerged he was arrested during a town centre disturbance 22 years ago. 
Football fan Lee Barron was watching England play in the World Cup in a Northampton pub in 1990 when trouble flared. A friend was arrested and Mr Barron, aged 19 at the time, tried to convince police he should be left with him rather than taken into custody. 
Instead, Mr Barron himself was arrested for wilful obstruction and received a £20 fine. 
The details came to light on Tuesday and, following high-level discussions within the Labour Party today, it was agreed he should step down.
The really bad news for Labour is that nominations have closed and it is too late to find a new candidate.

As Top of the Cops points out, the report goes on to offer contradictory accounts of when Barron's conviction came to light.

On the one hand:
The Chron understands Mr Barron informed the Labour Party of the incident before he was selected.
On the other:
A Labour spokesman said: “We are disappointed to learn from Lee today he has a previous conviction which bars him from standing as a candidate.
Top of the Cops also says that Barron's story about a recent change in the law meaning his conviction now disqualifies him when it would not have before is nonsense.

The stream of such withdrawals has done nothing to reconcile me to the idea of police and crime commissioners. There is even something a little sinister, a little James Anderton, about having someone in charge of the police who is supposed to be morally superior to the rest of us

Still, it is hard not to laugh. Here, thanks to Lib Dem Voice, is Labour spokesman Vernon Coaker speaking on the bill that brought them into existence:
Whatever our differences about the role of the police and crime commissioner, this debate is not about whether the model is right, but about the model working as well as it can and the position having credibility if it is set up. All of us would want that, whether we agree with the model or not. 
We cannot overestimate the importance that members of the public will put on the integrity of the person who is standing for police and crime commissioner; it would be inconceivable not to have the most stringent test for a PCC. I am pleased that the Minister agrees and has brought forward the amendment… 
As the Minister rightly said, that is an exceptionally tough condition of eligibility to stand, but it is right.

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