Election 2019

General election 2019: Norfolk Police chief complains about leaflet

Labour Party campaign leaflet.
Image caption An interview Simon Bailey gave to local media was used in an election leaflet

A police force has complained about its chief constable's comments being used in an election leaflet, claiming it compromises his impartiality.

Norfolk Police's Simon Bailey said he was "disappointed" to see his interview about cuts in a leaflet for Norwich South Labour candidate Clive Lewis.

The force complained to the Electoral Commission who said it was "not within our remit".

Labour has apologised to Mr Bailey for using his image without permission.

The chief constable's comments appeared under a banner claiming Norwich was being "wrecked" by the Conservative Party.

The leaflet quoted a headline from an October 2015 newspaper story in which he spoke about cuts to policing in Norfolk.

In response to the leaflet, Mr Bailey said: "As a police officer you must be impartial. Policing is strictly non-party political and we carry out our duties without fear or favour.

"I was therefore disappointed to see my words and photograph, originally published in local news media, used in political campaign material for a local candidate.

"I'm acutely aware of the power of perception and therefore wish to publicly clarify I have no desire to promote any political view and in no way endorse such material."

Image caption Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey said he did not endorse the leaflet

A Labour East spokesman said: "In the newspaper article that was featured in a leaflet, the chief constable expressed his concern that government cuts could stop Norfolk police protecting people.

"Labour shares those concerns, which is why we'll fund the police properly."

He said the party did not believe there had been any breach of electoral law.

An Electoral Commission spokesman confirmed a complaint had been received from the force, but said it had "advised them the matter was not within our remit" and needed to be taken up with the party in question instead.

A Norfolk Police spokeswoman said it had "acknowledged" the commission's view and had been subsequently contacted by the Labour Party with the apology.

Dr Mike Spencer, Conservative candidate for Norwich South, said: "I was disappointed to see Mr Lewis weaponising the chief constable in this way."

James Wright, Lib Dem candidate, said he agreed with the chief constable.

"As he says, policing must be strictly non-party political so that officers can carry out their duties without fear or favour," he said.

The five candidates standing for election in Norwich South are:

  • Clive Lewis - Labour
  • Mike Spencer - Conservative
  • James Wright - Liberal Democrats
  • Sandy Gilchrist - The Brexit Party
  • Catherine Rowett - Green Party

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