Wales politics

Conservative assembly candidate Gary Price being investigated

Gary Price Image copyright Powys council

The Conservative candidate in one of the party's top assembly election target seats is being investigated by the public services ombudsman.

Powys county councillor Gary Price, standing for Brecon and Radnorshire next year, is alleged to have brought a local authority into disrepute.

A formal complaint has also been made about his selection at a public meeting in July where all registered voters in the area were invited to take part.

Mr Price had no comment to make.

The Welsh Conservatives said the local constituency party had decided to choose its candidate via the "open primary" meeting in July and ratified the decision to endorse Gary Price, who had won the vote at a meeting attended by 140 people.

However, the president of the local branch, Jonathan Reeves, said he believes that the Conservatives' chances in the election in Brecon and Radnorshire, where they will be up against Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams, will be harmed.

'Untenable position'

BBC Wales has seen a copy of an email sent to the Welsh Conservatives' chairman Jonathan Evans.

If the ombudsman investigation goes against Mr Price, the letter says: "This would make his position as a candidate even more untenable than it already is, create a large amount of negative publicity and leave any campaign to take the seat from the Lib Dems in tatters."

A source at the office of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales confirmed it was investigating a complaint that Mr Price behaved in a way which brought Powys council into disrepute.

It is understood to relate to an employment disciplinary matter.

Mr Price, a former Plaid Cymru candidate in the last assembly election in 2011 in Brecon and Radnorshire, was suspended as a councillor two years ago when he disclosed sensitive information which was given to him in confidence.

'No involvement'

The local branch has also received a complaint alleging that Mr Price received texts during a question and answer session in the open primary near Llandrindod Wells, Powys.

Mr Price said: "As a candidate, I have no involvement in the process, other than as a candidate.

"The view that I have had from members of the public is that these complaints are from one or two individuals just mischief-making.

"There was a moderator in the room with all the candidates. Nothing was reported."

The Conservatives hope to repeat their success in Brecon and Radnorshire after Tory candidate Chris Davies comfortably beat the Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams in the May general election.

Last week, the Lib Dems won a council by-election in Glasbury, beating the Conservatives in the ward formerly held by Mr Davies.

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