December 13 2013 Latest news:
By Marijke Cox, Reporter
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Fellow Tory MP Mark Reckless put claims down to “sour grapes”
Claims the selection process for the Tory candidacy in the Police and Crime Commissioner race was unfair have been dismissed as “sour grapes”.
It followed accusations that one of the three successful candidates in the candidacy fight had been given an unfair advantage at Saturday’s selection meeting.
A Tory insider claimed ex-police officer Jan Berry, who was chosen as one of the final three to face hustings, may have had an advantage due to her brother Cllr Gary Cooke – a local Conservative party chairman and deputy cabinet member for education at Kent County Council – being at the meeting and being able to vote for her.
Ms Berry, who ran the Police Federation for several years, Medway councillor and former Ukip leader Craig Mackinlay, and European strategy advisor to Kent Police Francois Gordon, were selected out of six Tory candidates to go forward in the next stage of the candidacy process.
But a source told this newspaper there could be calls for the selection meeting to be re-run, stating the sibling relationship had not been declared ahead of the process.
“Apparently the vote was close enough to have made a difference to the final result and may have resulted in a different three candidates going through to the next stage.
“Why was a close relative allowed to attend the meeting, vote and lobby others to vote for his sister?”
But MP for Canterbury Julian Brazier, who is lead MP on the Conservative PCC candidacy process, said there would be no re-run.
“Her brother was there as a constituency chairman. He made it clear from the start she was his sister. This did not prevent him taking part,” he said.
Cllr Cooke said had he not attended it would have denied Faversham and Mid Kent – for whom he is local party chairman – a vote.
“There was no campaigning at the meeting and no canvassing on behalf of the candidates. There were set questions,” he said.
“For me not to have been there is would have denied Faversham and Mid Kent a vote in the process.
“It’s just people trying to muddy the water of a process which has been followed appropriately.”
Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless supported their comments. “It was made clear to me that Jan Berry was his sister,” he said.
“I think this is perhaps sour grapes. We have three excellent candidates.”
The trio will now face hustings in Medway, Tonbridge and Canterbury with party members, who will choose the final Conservative candidate to stand in the PCC election in November.
The PCC will replace the Kent Police Authority and will have the responsibility to hire and fire the chief constable and set the policing strategy.
Cabinet member for environment, highways and waste at Kent County Council Cllr Bryan Sweetland, Thanet councillor Jo Gideon, and cabinet member for community safety and customer contact at Medway Council Mike O’Brien all missed out in the running to become the party’s candidate.