So, I make no apologies for blogging again about Kent PCC candidate Fergus Wilson. Regular readers (there must be at least one of you out there) will be aware that Wilson has been convicted of common assault, which disqualifies him from being elected. His plan to appeal – long out of time – so that he can stand appears, at best, hopeless.
For the past few months Kent residents have been entertained by Wilson’s bizarre weekly adverts, in which he has pledged, amongst other things, to take command of the Royal Navy to close the English Channel to migrants.
Until last week. Last week, Wilson published an apparently sensible manifesto in which he promised, as well as putting Kent Police into shirts and ties, expert reviews of policing and the establishment of citizens panels to advise him and the Borough Commanders (which we don’t actually have in Kent, but never mind). None of his usual anti-immigrant ranting, none of his apparent obsession with armed police or Operation Stack.
What is behind his apparent change of heart? Well, Fergus has a new website which offers us a clue. It is promoted by one David Cooper, who appears to be this David Cooper, a retired Police Officer and former lawyer who has previously appointed himself “Shadow Police and Crime Commissioner.”
I wonder who will be carrying out all those expert reviews?
As well as a pen-portrait of Wilson, and his manifesto, there is as section on domestic abuse. And here it gets murkier. Very much murkier indeed.
Now let’s be clear: it’s a serious issue which demands to be taken seriously. It is laudable for anyone in public life to try to deal with it. But whether a man convicted of an offence of violence, who refuses to face up to that offence, is the right person to lead that campaign is doubtful to say the least. And the sincerity with which he approaches this issue must be called into question by the effort he has put into his campaigning on it. He presents research, backed up with impressive statistics. He refers to this as “the research that I have done.”
Except it’s not his at all. All of his tables of statistics have apparently been taken, without attribution, from the Kent and Medway Domestic Abuse Strategy.
It gets worse. To illustrate the problem Wilson (or Cooper, it is unclear who is driving this strategy) has published a number of photographs, apparently of domestic abuse victims, he says “with the consent of the respective women.” Like this woman:
Many of the other images are equally problematic. There are a few more from the same campaign, another from Annie Liebovitz, there are a couple of apparently stock images, and a woman from Cincinatti (not in Kent, last time I looked) who appears to have shot her husband. None of these are attributed.
Oh dear. Oh dearie me.
UPDATE 30/03 17:30: Since this post appeared Rankin’s photographs, including the one shown above, have disappeared from the gallery. This may or may not be related to my having alerted Rankin to the use of his images. Annie Liebovitz’s image remains, as do the others which are unrelated to Kent. On the page about his project, Wilson refers to there being 24 images in the gallery: only 20 remain.
UPDATE 30/03 19:15: Wilson’s apparent Campaign Manager is a retired Police Officer. Former PCC candidate Rachel Rogers has reported compellingly on why we should be worried about the involvement of retired Police Officers with PCCs.