AVON and Somerset’s police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens has lost every last shred of public respect through her back-door appointment of a deputy, says MP Ian Liddell-Grainger.
The Avon and Somerset police and crime panel has criticised Ms Mountstevens for the way she arbitrarily appointed John Smith, who had previously worked in her department, to the post in May.
It said her actions involved “clear failings” in transparency and due diligence. And Ms Mountstevens was also criticised for not following a “democratic process”, and for asking Chief Constable Andy Marsh to write a letter in support of the appointment.
In her defence Ms Mountstevens said the appointment was necessary to cope with an increased workload caused by new police lockdown powers –and pointed out there was no ‘specific guidance’ on how deputies should be chosen.
But Mr Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset said the PCC’s handling of the issue fell well short of acceptable standards.
“It’s just another shabby little episode from a totally shabby administration,” he said.
“There are many of us who have been questioning from the outset whether Ms Mountstevens was up to the job and this is just another piece of evidence that shows those doubts were well-founded.
“The public pays a great deal of money for its police service and it expects to see the highest standards of integrity being observed; what it does not expect to witness is some clearly manipulated, back-door appointment such as this.
“To my mind this destroys every last bit of respect the public might still have retained in her.
“Ms Mountstevens has set the bar very low for her successors: the next PCC will have to try extremely hard to achieve anything like her highly undistinguished record.”