MOVES are under way in Whitehall to iron out “gaps” after a disbarred candidate was elected to be a police and crime commissioner, a Home Office minister has told Parliament.

Tory frontbencher Baroness Williams of Trafford said it was “clearly not a good situation” for the electorate or the taxpayer after a poll was declared void and a rerun announced threatening to cost the public a further £1.4 million.

Jonathon Seed, who was the Conservative candidate to become Wiltshire’s PCC, won a combined total of 47 per cent of the vote in May but said he could not take up the role due to a historical conviction.

Mr Seed insisted he had declared a 30-year-old drink-driving offence to the party and had initially been told that it did not disqualify him from standing but he was later advised this was not the case.

Electoral Commission guidance states candidates for the post cannot stand if they have been convicted of an offence punishable with a prison sentence.

An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the election was launched by Thames Valley Police, who have sought the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service.

Tackled over the “costly error” at Westminster, Lady Williams said: “We will work with appropriate parties to ensure that we can iron out some of those gaps which have taken place over recent months.

“It is clearly not a good situation for the public, as the electorate, or indeed the taxpayer.”

Salisbury Journal: Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Jones of Cheltenham said: “My good friends and relations who live in Wiltshire are incandescent at the thought that they might have to pay for the rerun of this election.

“Is this not the worst example of a party – in this case the Conservatives – failing to exercise due diligence in selecting the ineligible candidate in the first place? What plans do the Government have to introduce legislation to deter and penalise this sort of attack on democracy?”

Responding, the minister said that it was “entirely up to the individual to declare convictions, whether recent or historic”.

She added: “The Cabinet Office will look at some of the gaps inherent in this first and most recent situation that has happened.”

The minister was also pressed over the strict eligibility rules that apply specifically to the role of police and crime commissioner and whether it should be reviewed.

Labour peer Lord Bach, himself a former PCC, said many felt the disqualification criteria was “far too wide in scope”.

He said: “It has meant that individuals, however young they were and however minor the offence may have been, are automatically excluded, for life, from being a police and crime commissioner.

“Of course, it goes without saying that any serious conviction involving actual imprisonment should disqualify an individual.”

He pressed the Government to look at the issue again.

Lady Williams said: “I think that what has happened in this election has thrown up some obvious gaps in the process.

“On what he says about the stringency of standing for office, he is absolutely right – PCCs have the most stringent requirements of all UK elections.

“But it is right that we should be quite strict about the people who are elected to uphold law and order.”

A fresh election for the role, which involves holding Wiltshire Police to account, overseeing a budget and setting the force’s priorities, has been scheduled for August 19.

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