Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner ordered to apologise over social media posts

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The PCC says he “totally rejects and refutes” the findings

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has been told to apologise to a member of the public over comments made on social media.

Festus Akinbusoye, who is standing for re-election to the role for the Conservatives, was ordered to apologise after he made allegations that the person had misused public funds.

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He was also told to be more professional on social media and ensure he uses accurate and reliable data.

Festus AkinbusoyeFestus Akinbusoye
Festus Akinbusoye

Mr Akinbusoye has said he “totally rejects and refutes the findings”.

Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Panel Complaints sub committee found that Mr Akinbusoye had "failed to achieve the level of professional behaviour expected of those in public office" as set out in the Nolan principles, external, with particular reference to the principles of openness and leadership.

It said there was a "strong implication" in social media posts he made that the complainant, either himself or through his association with Luton Neighbourhood Watch, had been involved in improper use of public funds.

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And it added that he had made statements that implied the complainant was “an enemy” by referencing Psalm 59 of the Bible.

The sub committee also found the commissioner had suggested that "Bedfordshire had one of the lowest number of police officers per head of population in the country" which the panel said is a fact not supported by Office for National Statistics data.

Bedford Borough Council has said investigation the complaints made against Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye is an "ongoing process".

Before the resident’s complaints were heard in private by the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel’s Complaints Sub-Committee (March 25) the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) asked if the findings would be published.

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Jahangir Ahmed, the council’s head of legal services (interim) and deputy monitoring officer, said they would not.

Although the findings were not to be published, summaries of the findings were leaked on social media and on a local group’s website.

The LDRS understands that the council’s legal and administration teams were advised that the Sub-Committee’s findings may be published by the complainant. But they ignored this advice, a source said.

The LDRS asked if the council was looking to sanction the complainant for making the findings public, and if it will be apologising to the PCC for the breach of confidentiality. A council spokesperson said: “This matter is still part of an ongoing process within the complaints procedure."

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In a statement sent to the BBC and LDRS, Festus Akinbusoye said: “The complaints process is not yet completed, and it is quite shocking that the complainant has released the findings of the panel sub-committee before I have had the opportunity to respond to them, so I am limited as to what I can say for legal reasons.

“I can however say, I totally reject and refute the findings of the Panel and will be responding fully as part of the formal process in due course.

“It will be very concerning to any objective observer looking at this process, that an independent Police and Crime Panel decided to hold a sub-committee complaint hearing a day before the election regulated period commenced.

“The timing of the Panel’s intervention is therefore deeply regrettable.

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“It is sadly not the first time the Police and Crime Panel has inserted itself yet again into an election campaign where I am a candidate, resulting in public accusations of bullying and interference by one of its own members.

“I remain fully focused on my positive campaign to be re-elected as Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner on Thursday May 2 while continuing to fulfil all my duties on behalf of residents,” he said.

The LDRS asked the borough council if the complaint process has only been partially completed, and if the PCC was able to address the complaints.

The council spokesperson said: “The panel is bound by its own complaints procedure, taken from statute, that says the Panel cannot publish it unless it has first consulted the complainant and the commissioner and, after considering their comments, deems it to be in the public interest.

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"We have now written to ask them both for their comments but not heard back yet.

"Panel members are not able to comment at this stage and we will not be commenting further," they said.

This is the second time the panel has held a complaints sub-committee shortly before a PCC election, but Mr Ahmed insists that it was merely a “coincidence”.