This is Derbyshire September 21st 2012
THE Conservative candidate in the running to be Derbyshire’s first police commissioner has been accused of “dirty tactics” after he cast doubt on his rival’s eligibility for the role.
Simon Spencer has urged the public not to “waste” their vote on Labour’s Alan Charles, claiming the “correct authorities” had not confirmed he was able to stand.
The row relates to a saga that saw Mr Charles initially pull out of the running after being told a conditional discharge, given 47 years ago when he was 14, barred him from standing for office.
Home Office rules state anyone convicted of an offence for which you could be sent to prison cannot stand.
Lawyers later said the offence did not count and Mr Charles was reinstated.
But, in his latest campaign newsletter, Mr Spencer said “no such ruling has been made by the correct authorities”.
The newsletter adds: “Does this mean that, if he were elected, he could not take the position of Police and Crime Commissioner? Well, we hope that people won’t waste their votes to find out.”
Mr Charles, who admitted he stole a purse from a woman’s bag as a “dare” when he was 14, said he was furious at the slur.
He said: “The rules state that no one with a conviction for a prisonable offence can stand. I pleaded guilty and was given a conditional discharge.
“The reason I was given the discharge is it meant that, providing I wasn’t brought back before the courts within the 12-month discharge period, which I was not, I would not be given a conviction.
“If you ask me if I pleaded guilty to an offence, I say ‘yes’. But if the question is ‘do I have a conviction?’ the answer is ‘no, I do not’. Therefore, I am eligible to stand. It is an interpretation that has been tried and tested at the High Court in a similar case in 2007.”
Mr Charles said he was frustrated the matter was overshadowing his election campaign.
“It is extremely mischievous of Simon Spencer to raise this issue again. I want to concentrate on debating policies and I hope other candidates will join me in that.”
In response, Mr Spencer said: “He was the person who said when he was standing down that he had no recollection of the details of the offence, only to reveal them a few days later when pressed.
“I find it quite astonishing that he is accusing me of misleading the public.”