Conservative PCC candidate reported for breaking election rules for second time

A Conservative candidate running for North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner has been reported to the returning officer for a second time.

Jez Hemming www.dailypost.co.uk 

Pat Astbury, who is one of five people in the running for the PCC post, was reprimanded by Police Area Returning Officer for North Wales Colin Everett last week for an “inaccurate” statement and for having “privileged access” to Police Minister Kit Malthouse MP.

She had mistakenly called herself “your local Police and Crime Commissioner” rather than PCC candidate in a video discussion with the Minister.

The video was later edited to remove the reference and Mr Everett advised Police Minister Kit Malthouse to “extend the opportunity for an interview to all other candidates” or otherwise ask for it to be withdrawn.

Now it has emerged Mrs Astbury, a former Ruthin town councillor and Mayor, was referred to as a “local councillor” in Conservative communication to electors.

There is no suggestion Mrs Astbury was aware of the error before being contacted by Mr Everett, who is chief executive of Flintshire county council.

She made it clear she had no input into the election material, which had been produced by the Conservative Party.

She said: “It’s the second complaint and the first error (involving Kit Malthouse) was mine. The second one I haven’t seen, as it was in a constituency paper – I don’t even know which one it was.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has since discovered the reference was made in a Conservative paper sent to electors in Clwyd West.

In a Facebook post on her campaign page she said: “An error has appeared in print, describing myself as a councillor, when in fact I am a former councillor.

“I apologise if this has been misleading in any way, and hopefully, this explanation will address the matter. There has been no intent to deceive whatsoever, and I trust this explanation will serve to clarify.”

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Mrs Astbury added: “Colin Everett said he was drawing a line under the first complaint and he was doing the same under this one too.”

A spokeswoman for the Welsh Conservatives, said: “Pat made a genuine error, for which she has apologised.”

A spokesman for the Police Area Returning Officer for North Wales, Colin Everett, said the matter was now “closed”.

The campaign to find the next PCC is underway in earnest as all the candidates fight for the vacant role left by Arfon Jones, who announced he was stepping down earlier this year.