PRESSURE is growing on the Tory party’s police and crime commissioner candidate for Hampshire to stand aside.
Former Petersfield MP Michael Mates was selected to run for the new position earlier this year, beating Portsmouth councillor Donna Jones.
But since then several Tories have questioned whether he is the right man to be in the race.
The main points of contention are his long-term support for recently-jailed fraudster Asil Nadir, and also the fact that Mr Mates has never paid to the Commons authorities any of the thousands of pounds he received from his tenancy of a flat in Dolphin Square. The rent for this flat was publicly funded from his parliamentary expenses.
Gosport Council’s deputy leader Graham Burgess is one of the Conservatives to have called for Mr Mates to stand down from the contest.
He said: ‘If you are going to be a candidate for police commisioner you have got to be beyond reproach and this shows a serious lack of judgment.’
Portsmouth City Council’s Steve Wemyss has also added his voice to the criticism.
Mr Mates has defended himself against the calls for him to stand aside.
Speaking to Channel Four News today, he said: ‘I say to them, “if that’s your view you should talk to the Conservative authorities and not the press”.
‘I do find it extraordinary that people who say they are disinterested Conservatives should make these remarks rather than to the area chairman, which is how you would expect Conservatives to behave.
‘All this is innuendo coming from people in the area where my defeated opponent in the selection process comes from.’
The elections to become police and crime commissioner are on November 15.