28 February 2024

Police candidate ‘disbarred’ as commissioner

The Police and Crime commissioner election count will still take place in Wiltshire today (Monday 10th May 2021), despite a candidate withdrawing after an historic driving conviction emerged.

Jonathon Seed was the Conservative Party’s candidate for the post of Police and Crime commissioner for Swindon and Wiltshire, which has been held by fellow Tory Angus Macpherson since 2012.

On Sunday, the party said Mr Seed had been “disbarred” after a historic driving offence had “come to light”.

Mr Seed insisted he had declared his conviction to the party in his application to the role, which he said he had now withdrawn from.

The returning officer for the election count, which is due to take place in Salisbury on Monday, confirmed that it would still go ahead.

Terence Herbert, returning officer for the Wiltshire and Swindon Police and Crime commissioner area, said, “Once a candidate’s nomination paper has been accepted by the Returning Officer, they are formally a candidate and their name must appear on the ballot paper.

“As the election was held on Thursday 6 May, the ballot papers must be verified and counted and the result declared, in accordance with electoral law.

“The Wiltshire and Swindon Police and Crime Commissioner election count will take place as planned on Monday 10 May at Five Rivers Health and Wellbeing Centre in Salisbury.”

The legislation creating police and crime commissioners puts a stricter bar on historic offences than other elected positions.

Guidance on the Electoral Commission’s website states that candidates cannot stand for election if they have ever been convicted of an imprisonable offence.

This disqualification applies even if the person was not imprisoned for that offence, or if the conviction has been spent.

A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said, “The full range of potential disqualifications is complex.

“The Commission provides guidance for candidates, agents and returning officers based on the rules set by Parliament, but it is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure that the information they submit on their nomination papers is correct.

“Once a candidate’s nomination paper has been accepted by the relevant returning officer they are formally a candidate and their name must appear on the ballot paper.

“Electoral law requires that after the close of polls, the ballot papers must be verified and counted and the result declared.”

In 2016, Mr Macpherson received 46.2% of the vote in the first round and was elected after the vote went to a second ballot. His closest contender, Labour’s Kevin Small, received 23% of the vote in the first round.

Mr Seed would be declared the winner of the election in the first round of counting on Monday if he secured more than 50% of the first choice votes.

In a statement, the councillor said he was “bitterly disappointed” that he would not be able to take up the post if elected.

“To the best of my knowledge and belief when I applied for, and became the Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for the Conservative Party in Wiltshire and Swindon, I was an eligible candidate,” Mr Seed said.

“I have declared my 30-year-old driving conviction to the party in my applications both to be a Parliamentary candidate and more recently a PCC candidate.

“Party officials confirmed my belief that my offence did not disqualify me. I have now been advised that this is not the case, and that I am disqualified as a PCC candidate. I have therefore withdrawn.

“I am bitterly disappointed that I will not be able to take up the post if I were to be elected.”

Mr Seed was re-elected as a councillor to Wiltshire Council for the Melksham Without West and Rural ward on Saturday.

A spokeswoman for the Conservative Party said, “Due to a historic driving offence that has come to light, the candidate has been disbarred from becoming the Police and Crime Commissioner.”

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Written by Staff Writer