Police job hopeful defends self over Tory links

By Dan Santy Thursday 06 September 2012 Updated: 06/09 09:51

Buy photos » Ron Ball. (s)

INDEPENDENT Police Commissioner candidate Ron Ball has denied he misled the public by not disclosing his attempt to stand for the Conservatives earlier this year.

Mr Ball last week appeared in the Observer criticising his Labour and Conservative party rivals, James Plaskitt and Fraser Pithie, for carrying 'political baggage' which would affect how they do the job.

He said Warwickshire's Police Commissioner should instead be somebody who is not influenced by party politics in any way.

The article prompted Warwickshire Conservatives to reveal Mr Ball had earlier this year applied to be the Tory candidate for the election, to be held in November.

But Mr Ball has come out and explained his actions, admitting he was until recently a Conservative party member for eight years, but one who was never active politically.

And he said the reason he applied to be the Tory candidate was because, at the time, he felt he could not justify paying the £5,000 deposit needed to stand in the election from his own pocket.

Mr Ball told the Observer: "At the start I thought there's absolutely no way I am prepared to spend that sort of money campaigning. I thought to be a realistic candidate, I'd have to go through the Conservative party."

When interviewed by senior Conservatives, Mr Ball made clear his desire to keep politics out of the role and said he would not toe the party line if he was elected.

He was rejected, but only later did he decide to stand independently after a meeting where Fraser Pithie identified the Police Commissioner's role as a way of boosting support for Tory MPs in the next general election.

Mr Ball said: "I was just gobsmacked at that and publicly challenged him on it, and it was quite clear other party members who were there agreed with me.

"I went away from the meeting and didn't rush into a decision, but I thought it really was not right and eventually decided I had to stand against attempts to politicise the police.

"I think the public would agree we need to keep politics out of policing, and if I am not elected I will really feel like I have failed."

Mr Ball said the reason he did not declare his Conservative links to the Observer was because he only retired from his job as an airline pilot last week, and at the same time his daughter gave birth to twins eight weeks early.

"I had so little time and events took over me in the run up to the launch of my website, where I do disclose my Conservative party membership. I never tried to mislead anyone," he said.

"It would have been naive of me to think nobody was going to bring this up at some point.

"Of course people are always going to have different political views, but if I am elected, I'm confident at the end of my four year term the general view would be I acted with integrity and always put the public first."

In response, Warwickshire Conservatives spokesman, Mark Lerigo, said: "Fraser Pithie suggested if a Conservative Police Commissioner was elected and judged successful, it would be a positive reflection on the party and therefore would help the party's MPs at the next general election.

"The fact remains Ron Ball applied to the Conservative Party for selection as its candidate. It's therefore disingenuous to suggest he has a deep rooted belief in politics being kept out of policing.

"If this were the case he would never have applied to enter the contest on a political platform."

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