19 Jun 2012

Law not meant to bar Simon Weston, says Theresa May

The Home Secretary Theresa May said today it was not the intention of the 2011 Police and Social Responsibility Act to disqualify people like Simon Weston from stranding as as police and crime commissioner (PCC).

Mrs May’s comments came in response to a question I asked her at a press gallery lunch today, following my blog yesterday saying that the 2011 act seems to bar Weston on the grounds that he was convicted of being found in a stolen car when he was 14 years old, 36-37 years ago.  Weston was fined £30 and given three months probation.

“In passing the act we were keen to bar crinimals from standing,” May told the lunch, “and it was not our intention to bar people like Simon Weston who committed minor offences when they were teenagers.”


I understand that the home secretary does not believe that the act would in fact disqualify Weston.  But the impression I get from dealings with the Home Office, both yesterday and today, is that lawyers in the department think the law is very tough in its wording, and would probably disqualify Weston.

The independent election lawyer Ros Baston, a former official with the Electoral Commission, also believes Weston may be barred under the 2011 law.  She says that if Weston went ahead and stood for police commissioner then he might be accused of signing a false declaration at the time of his nomination.  Weston might also be open to a legal challenge from any voter in South Wales, she says, especially if he was eventually elected police commissioner.

Mrs May’s comments at the lunch, and her favourable view of Weston’s candidature, also suggest that she might be open to amending the law.  The Conservative backbencher Charles Walker says he would support such a move if the legislation is found to go against the Falklands war hero.

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