Published on 5 Sep 2012

Mates fights bid by senior Hampshire Tories to sack him

David Cameron was less than fully supportive when the Labour MP Gavin Shuker asked him at Question Time today about whether he “supports” his candidate for police commissioner in Hampshire. That candidate is Michael Mates, the former MP (and once, briefly, a minister) who is probably the best-known and most colourful of all the Conservative contenders for police and crime commissioner (PCC) in November’s elections.

But the Tories are now in real danger of losing another of their PCC candidates.

Michael Mates is facing strong calls from within his own party to step down as candidate for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight over his suitability for such a sensitive job.

I have spoken to several Tory critics who hold senior positions in the party in Hampshire and in local government in the area. They feel Mr Mates is unsuitable for the role of police commissioner because of two episodes from his past. The first is his friendship with Asil Nadir, the businessmen who got ten years jail last month for fraud, and for whom Mates acted as a defence witness at the Old Bailey.

The other reason is a windfall, estimated to be worth around £40,000, which Mr Mates received around 2006 from his tenancy of a flat in Dolphin Square, Westminster. This was compensation by the owners of the freehold of the property to give up his tenancy. Mates’ rent on Dolphin Square, where he had been a tenant since the 1970s, was paid from his parliamentary allowances – ie. It was public money.

One critic, Graham Burges, the deputy leader of Gosport Borough Council, said: “I believe the candidate for police and crime commissioner should be beyond reproach and this candidate still has some questions to answer.

“In relation to Dolphin Square he should have paid back the money straight away. Its too late to do it now.

“I believe he should stand down and I have been contacted by many Hampshire members who have expressed a similar view.”

Mr Mates was one of 42 MPs to receive such windfalls, and the parliamentary standards commissioner John Lyon has stated in the cases of many of those MPs (though not all of them), that a large share of the windfall should be paid back to Parliament.

Mr Mates has not yet paid any money back to the Commons authorities. He says that when he left Dolphin Square he reinvested his windfall in a house in London, and did so with the approval of the then parliamentary authorities, the Fees Office. Mr Mates said some years ago (while he was still an MP) that he would seek further advice on what to do about his windfall when he finally left the Commons.

Mr Mates stepped down as an MP at the 2010 election, but has yet to seek advice from IPSA, the body which now handles MPs’ expenses.

Mr Mates tells me his London home is now on the market and he has found a buyer for it. He says that once the property has been sold he will seek advice from the parliamentary authorities, and comply with whatever they advise about the windfall he received.

Mr Mates says he has “nothing to hide” though he refuses to say what the amount of his Dolphin Square windfall was.

The Labour front-bencher Gavin Shuker asked David Cameron today: “Does the Prime Minister have full confidence in his Police and Crime Commissioner in Hampshire?”

Cameron replied: “We havent yet had the elections; the elections are in November. This is a good opportunity to broadcast from this House what an important set of elections they are. I want to see a new form of accountability coming through our police forces and I think it’s an excellent reform and I’m sure one that many people want to turn out and vote, and vote for their local Conservative candidate.”

Less than fulsome praise for Michael Mates, on the day when his Hampshire critics went public with their discontent.

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10 reader comments

  1. Rose Bowl says:

    “Senior Hampshire Tories” is stretching the headline a litlte bit ! Minor local government councillors more like it.

    The usual whinge, wind and self pity at their missed opportunities rather than anyone’s unsuitability. They should be ashamed that their petty local politics are giving comfort to their party’s opponents on a national stage

  2. HampshireTory says:

    @RoseBowl I think you’re wrong to suggest that the Party members in Hampshire are frustrated at missed opportunities. Party members from across the County are frustrated that Michael Mates made the grade. The Police Commissioner role is about integrity, about delivering a Police Service for the public in Hampshire, about being whiter than white, beyond reproach. Michael Mates has skeletons that we dont like. He interfered with the Serious Fraud Office’s investigation into Asil Nadir; he was a character witness at Nadir’s trial; Asil Nadir has been convicted of numerous counts of theft from Polly Peck International. Additionally, Michael Mates claimed rent monies from the Tax Payer to fund a London home at Dolphin Square. He was paid off to leave a sitting tenancy. Somewhere in the region of £40,000. He should pay this back, as Joe Pub funded his living! Dare I go on. The Hampshire PCC salary will be in the region of £85,000. So, if elected, he’ll be earning £85K, a retired Lieutenant Colonel’s pension, a retired MPs pension. The latter two he earned, in fairness, but he’s made it clear that he’ll not be in the office too often earning the £85K! Not on if you ask me.

  3. D P Dance says:

    I disagree with Ms Bowl. If there is a cloud hanging over Mr Mates, however silvered lined it may be, he should withdraw from this election until such time as the ownership of his windfall has been determined.

    1. Rose Bowl says:

      There is no cloud here, less the overblown one exaggerated by a local cabal to suit their own demands.

      Mates beat 5 others to get this candidacy, primarily because he is the most experienced person for the job.

      Fat cat local councillors gerrymandering elections while sorting each other out for future appointments is the story here, not some historical event that appears not to have reached a conclusion.

      1. HampshireTory says:

        You’re correct in saying ‘not some historical event that hasn’t reached a conclusion’, and for that reason, Michael Mates needs to step aside. He has taken taxpayers’ monies to pay for a London home. The home was repossessed, and he received handsome riches for it – circa £40,000. He has not yet paid it back to the public purse.

  4. Andy says:

    As a Conservative Party member for very many years I cannot support Michael Mates. Apart from any other consideration, who honestly believes that a 78 year old can properly carry out the duties which warrant a salary of £85k? He was finally selected by a very small number of Tory members – interestingly one of the party selection meetings was held in his former constituency! For me the ideal candidate at present appears to be the Independent, Simon Hayes.

  5. Pompey View says:

    Would the senior Tories be the former chairman in pompey who is also the deptuty group leader of the pompey tory group whom he beat FAIR and SQUARE in the selections, and her best mate who just happens to be chairman of Hampshire and was prevented from chairing the hustings when they came over to the Isle of Wight after complaints of him not being impartial in earlier rounds.

    1. Wighter than White says:

      Didn’t George Hollingbery, Board member for the 1922 Committee run the selection? So the suggestion of the Hampshire Chairman behaving improperly is entirely unjust, and an appalling indictment. As for the way selections were run on the Isle of Wight, I tried to arrange for both final two candidates to be heard, but the Leader of IW Council deliberately prevented the other candidate from having a voice on the island, inviting only Mr Mates to speak at events. That surely is the travesty here.

  6. Elsie says:

    At least one part of democracy worked ……. He didnt get elected !

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