Fergus Wilson – no charges brought

Last year I reported on prospective Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate Fergus Wilson, and alleged that he was disqualified from standing due to his 2014 conviction for common assault. Subsequently, after Mr Wilson submitted nomination papers, I reported him to Kent Police for making a false declaration in his nomination papers.

Last week I was told by Kent Police that their investigation into Mr Wilson has been completed. I’m informed that Mr Wilson was interviewed as part of that investigation, and that a file has been presented to the CPS, but that no charges are to be brought against him. To bring charges, the CPS must be convinced both that there is a realistic prospect of conviction, and that it’s in the public interest to prosecute.

I was quite happy to let the matter drop there. Mr Wilson’s candidature is at an end, the election is long over and done with, and most importantly he’d promised to “ride off into the sunset” after the failure of his election campaign. He’s not a professional politician and it was over.

However, I see that the following story appears in the Medway Messenger:


fergus nocharges

I’m the complainant. I can confirm that I’ve not been spoken to by the Police in relation to this matter. I stand by my reporting I believed then, and I believe now, that my reporting was accurate and in the public interest. If the Police speak to me, I’ll defend myself vigorously.

Perhaps I’m lucky. A few days ago Mr Wilson was offering to fight a journalist who’d been unkind about his racehorse.

Fergus, it was punching someone that got you into this trouble in the first place.

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Kent PCC elections: the results in detail.

This post is strictly for politics nerds. Yesterday we looked at the result of the Police and Crime Commissioner and today I want to look at the results in some more detail.

First: a health warning. Direct comparisons between this result and the 2012 election are problematic to say the least. Firstly and most obviously, the winning candidate from 2012 didn’t seek re-election and, as an independent, there’s no party we can use as a basis for comparison. Secondly, the Lib Dems didn’t stand last time. Further, low turnouts in both elections may mean that lessons for other elections are difficult to draw. Nevertheless, I think it’s a worthwhile exercise, if only as a resource for later. Throughout this post, I’m going to talk only about the first round of voting, because that was the only one in which all the parties were represented. And,

This was the result:

1st round share

The following table is the 2016 result in full, with the 2012 result for comparison, and the movement between elections (I’ve not included the Lib Dems):

From this, we can see how the parties have fared in each of the Kent districts:

Change from 2012

All of the major parties have increased their vote share in every district (except the Tories in Gravesham). That’s unsurprising: all of Ann Barnes’s votes from 2012 were up for grabs. The English Democrats’ Steve Uncles saw his vote share fall everywhere: remarkably, on a much-improved turnout his votes went down in every district too. He did particularly badly in Dartford, the district he lives in. I’m not going to pay him too much more attention, except to observe that, on the day London elected its first Muslim Mayor, race-baiting seems to be the fast-track to political oblivion.

Though the Tories won, Ukip will doubtless be pleased with these results. There are some impressive increases in vote share: particularly in Shepway, where it seems to be building up something of a power base. Labour really ought to have done better, though these results are far from disastrous for them: the fact that they didn’t do so is probably more to do with their lacklustre national performance than their local campaign. There’s little here to remind us, however, that there used to be a handful of Labour MPs in Kent: these are just the sorts of seats they need to win back if they are to have any hope of forming another Government.

Finally, the Lib Dems have slipped further into irrelevance.

Update: The Political Medway has a very comprehensive analysis of the results which is well worth a look.

Oh Steve Uncles, what have you done?

Putting other people’s work on your website seems to be a feature of the no-hope candidates in this election. First, we had Fergus Wilson and the curious case of those photographs.

Now, it appears, English Democrat Steve Uncles has also been indulging in a little cutting-and-pasting. One of these is quite funny, but the other really isn’t funny at all.

First, a little light relief. On April 16th an article appeared on Uncles’ official website: The wasted years of Anne Barnes – Kent Police Commissioner by Adam Hignett. A very interesting article is is too: it doesn’t actually mention Uncles at all. It could almost have been written by a professional journalist.

Actually, it was written by a professional journalist: the whole article has been lifted from the Times of Tunbridge Wells (here’s the article on their website: Uncles appears to have taken it from a digital edition). I asked the newspaper whether they’d given Uncles permission to reproduce it, and their response was rather interesting:

Oh. And, looking closer at the image they kindly supplied, we see that Uncles has made one change to the article. This is from the original:

frontrunner1

and this is from his reproduction:

frontrunner2.PNG

That’s right, he’s crudely photoshopped his own face into it, describing himself as the frontrunner: remember, that’s into an article that doesn’t mention him at all. Shameless.

Perhaps spurred on, Uncles went in for a bit more cutting-and-pasting: and here the story gets a lot darker.

On April 20th the media reported an alleged gang-rape at Bluewater shopping centre: here’s Kent Online’s report.  The same day, Uncles reproduced that article on his website: here it is. This time, he didn’t just paste a picture in: he changed the words in the article to make a political point. He changed the headline from this:

Young woman ‘gang raped’ at Bluewater shopping centre 

to this:

Seven Muslim Men rape Young Woman in Bluewater Carpark in Kent

…and he made other changes to the body of the article to claim the attack was carried out by seven Muslim men. The original article makes no reference to the alleged attackers’ religion at all. So Uncles has – to put it mildly – misrepresented a shocking and tragic situation in order to make a disgraceful political point.

None of the men are Muslim: Kent Police have released a statement confirming it:

Due to the widespread attention this incident has received, investigating officers can confirm that all the 11 men who were arrested are whie, English and non-Muslim.

Rather desperately, Uncles has gone into attack mode, throwing accusations at everyone who has called him out, starting with accusing the Police of lying:

Well, exactly. Why would they lie? They’ve nothing to gain from doing so, and everything to lose: if and when the suspects were charged it would become obvious. I submit that we can discount the possibility that the Police are being untruthful.

Then he went into conspiracy mode, claiming to see something sinister in reports of the incident emerging some weeks after it took place:

In fact there’s nothing to suggest that the Police have suppressed news on it at all: we don’t know when the offence was reported to them. Their statement says that officers “promptly identified the suspects and 11 arrests were made” which suggests that it wasn’t reported to them for some time. It’s not unusual for victims of this kind of offence not to come forward for some time, and understandably so: many never feel able to come forward at all. But even if the Police have known about it for some time, there may be very good reasons for not releasing information about it immediately: sometimes it’s important not to tip suspects off.

Next, Uncles demands that Police release CCTV of the event:

Yes, that’s right: he demands Police release CCTV footage of a woman being raped. That’s not going to happen, and he knows it: the Police are not in the business of releasing that kind of thing to make political points, either for him or against him, and it may well not be their property to release. And not only could releasing too much evidence at this stage jeopardise the suspects’ right to a fair trial, but it could lead to the identification of the victim: something that is absolutely forbidden.

Uncles tried to draw comparison with grooming incidents in Rotherham, making the same response fifteen times, even when it didn’t make much sense:

Now, what happened in South Yorkshire was shocking and unacceptable. But the circumstances were really quite different, and a lot has happened since then. There’s no reason to suppose the Police are covering up this incident, for the reasons we’ve discussed again. This is just an attempt to distract us from Uncles being caught out.

Finally, Uncles has posted all of these claims on his website, repeating his bizarre claim that the Police are lying, and claiming that they are under instructions to cover these matters up. He posts a copy of information received from Bedfordshire Police under the Freedom of Information Act which he says contain these instructions: you can read them for yourself on his website, and I’ll leave you to make up your own mind whether you agree; but to me they look like a set of guidelines for Police Officers to exercise some sensitivity when going into Muslim households – certainly there are no instructions to lie.

Somewhere out there, a young woman has gone through the most awful ordeal, and now has to endure the double agony of being cynically exploited for political gain. It is disgraceful for anyone to seek to use her suffering to incite fear and hatred of others.

Fergus Wilson: the final Act.

Fergus Wilson’s bid to be elected Kent Police and Crime Commissioner finally came to an end in Court 18 of the Royal Courts of Justice today when his application for Judicial Review of the Returning Officer’s decision to exclude him from the ballot paper was dismissed.

Wilson was also ordered to pay £20,000 towards the Returning Officer’s costs in defending the action which, as we have seen, always seemed doomed to failure.

Good. Our faith in British Justice is restored.

Steve Uncles – that defence in full

English Democrat candidate Steve Uncles as been in touch on Twitter, in his inimitable style, to take issue with a couple of things I said about him in my previous post. Let’s have a look at his defence in full:

How to win friends and influence people, eh? Presumably ‘clown’ is meant to be a compliment, since they are funny, culturally iconic and highly entertaining, a bit like me.

Indeed Uncles does have two awards for bravery (apparently for the same incident), and very laudable his actions are too: but they are as irrelevant to the role of Police and Crime Commissioner as his 1983 Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Nobody expects him to go out and tackle all the criminals himself; he’s meant to be providing scrutiny and strategic leadership to the Police.

Besides, it’s not compulsory to mention everyone’s awards and qualifications in every snarky blogpost, unless Mr Uncles intends to congratulate me on my 25 metre swimming certificate and Cycling Proficiency Badge every time he tweets me in future.

I haven’t forgotten that Uncles gained 50,000 votes in 2009, I’ve not included it deliberately. Firstly, because it’s seven years ago and not even nearly the most recent time he’s stood: more recent elections are plainly more relevant. Secondly, because it’s not actually true: the elections to which Uncles refers are the European Parliamentary elections, and you don’t vote for a candidate in those elections, you vote for the Party. Uncles was first on his party’s list, but he can hardly claim every vote as a personal endorsement of him. And those 50,000 people were across the whole of the South East of England, and represented 2.2% of the vote.

Uncles seems to have forgotten that he contested the same election again in 2014: I asked him what the result of that election was:

For some reason he told me about a completely different election :

Perhaps he needs a reminder that his party received 17,771 votes: that’s down by more than half, and represents just 0.76% of the vote.

Kent PCC Elections – the story so far

And then there were six

18th April is the deadline to vote in the Kent PCC elections: you can register here.

Six candidates remain for the post:

Matthew Scott (Conservative).

Must regard himself as one of the front-runners for the post, given the electoral dominance of the Tories in Kent. The Tories will be looking to gain the Commissioner’s post now that Ann Barnes has decided not to stand.

But dear God, save us from another Tory running things into the ground…

Tristan Osborne (Labour)

Labour’s Tris Osborne is young, dynamic and clearly destined to go a long way in politics. He’s also, er, been tweeting pictures of himself campaigning in London for Sadiq Khan…

Don’t get me wrong, the London Mayoral Election is absolutely key for Labour, and indeed it is a selling point that he’d be able to build stronger links with the Met (there is no PCC in London, the Mayor filling that role), but really…

Dave Naghi (Lib Dem)

The Lib Dems didn’t stand last time, and Maidstone Councillor Dave Naghi doesn’t appear to be putting much effort into it this time either: his official profile on the Lib Dems’ website doesn’t even mention he’s standing, his campaign website hasn’t been updated since March, and his Twitter feed focuses almost entirely on the EU referendum.

As Cllr Naghi seems to be ignoring his campaign, we will do the same.

Henry Bolton (UKIP)

On paper Bolton is an impressive candidate, a retired Army officer who was subsequently seconded to the former Yugoslavia, where he filled a number of impressive-sounding roles. He appears to be campaigning hard, though perhaps wisely he seems to be downplaying his links with UKIP (though he was recently photographed enjoying the statutory pint with Nigel Farage).

On the other hand, he is from UKIP, and therefore unacceptable.

Steve Uncles (English Democrats)

Ugh.

The candidate for the hard-right English Democrats is the only one to have stood in 2012: he came fifth. Since then, he stood for Dartford in the 2015 General Election: his party’s share of the vote collapsed by 90%, and he was placed sixth with 0.4% of the vote.

Uncles attempted to fund his campaign by a crowdfunding effort, raising a miserable £175 towards his £5,000 target.

Rather remarkably, his trial for alleged election fraud has been delayed to enable him to stand this time.

Now that Fergus is no longer with us, Uncles would be the comedy candidate in this election, if it weren’t that he posts stuff like this on Twitter:

…which really isn’t funny at all. We may return to Uncles later, though we may need a bath afterwards.

Gurvinder Sandher (Independent)

Mr Sandher is Director of the Kent Equalities Cohesion Council and a noted equalties campaigner. He has vowed to keep party politics out of policing – though perhaps Kent has had enough of well-meaning but vague independents after Ann Barnes.

And two failed to make the cut:

Tim Garbutt

Independent candidate Tim Garbutt announced that he had decided not to stand in the election, citing alleged high levels of corruption:

Of course it was due to that Tim, and nothing at all to do with finding out that it was going to cost you money to stand:

Fergus Wilson

As we have seen Wilson’s application for leave to appeal for Judicial Review is before the High Court: it is set down for trial next Thursday (April 21st). Bizarrely, Wilson says that he isn’t sure whether he really wants to stand, Kent Online reporting:

He said: “It’s a practical issue. I really don’t know if I’d run,” adding: “A lot of people have got in touch to say they are appalled by the decision.”

I’m sure the Court will be impressed by this apparent waste of their time: and, as the deadline for withdrawals has long since passed, in the highly-unlikely event of his appeal being successful he will have to stand whether he likes it or not.