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PCC Snubs Complaints Panel Decision and Refuses to Explain Herself to Reigate MP

Published on: 24 Apr, 2022
Updated on: 27 Apr, 2022

PCC Lisa Townsend at the Surrey Police and Crime Panel meeting.

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

Surrey’s police and crime commissioner has snubbed a complaints panel decision and refused to explain herself to Reigate’s MP after her transgender tweet caused offence.

Lisa Townsend was found to have breached her office’s code of conduct by tweeting about “men who keep telling us they are women”.

She has now rebuffed councillors by refusing to carry out their proposed remedy.

She said she would “not be writing to explain myself to” complainants, including Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, as was requested by the panel that oversees complaints against her, following a two-and-a-half hour long discussion in February.

Cllr David Reeve SCC

Chairman David Reeve (Res Assoc, Epsom & Ewell) yesterday asked the PCC: “Have you in fact written to the three complainants about this?”

Ms Townsend replied: “No I have not and I don’t intend to.”

Panel member Cllr John Furey (Con, Addlestone) said: “A decision was arrived at, you should honour that decision.

“We have to abide by the legalities of the issues that we’re looking at.”

Turning to look at Ms Townsend, he continued: “And so should you”.

Back in December the PCC retweeted and commented on a post from Harry Potter author JK Rowling implying biologically male rapists are not female, enraging the trans community.

See: PCC Breached Code of Conduct When Quoting J K Rowling in Transgender Tweet

Crispin Blunt MP

Mr Blunt – who chaired an LGBT group in parliament – and two other men reported her to Surrey County Council’s police and crime panel, and its complaints sub-committee found the language she used was a breach.

Four against three members decided her words “We will not accept this gaslighting from men who keep telling us they are women” failed to treat others with dignity and respect.

The sub-committee asked the Tory PCC to write an “explanatory letter” to the people who had complained.

On being asked by the chair if she had done so, she said the matter “should be cleared up” by publishing her response to the panel on her website.

“It’s contrary to what we’ve asked,” replied Cllr Reeve. “We wish to move on, but again it just means that you’re ignoring what this panel thinks.”

PCC Lisa Townsend: “I shan’t be writing to Mr Blunt…”

Ms Townsend said: “I’m not ignoring the panel, I’m very conscious of what the panel requested that I do.

“I considered the request and I have come to a decision that I am legally entitled to come to.

“I shan’t be writing to Mr Blunt, or the other two.”

The Reigate MP came under fire this month for questioning the jury conviction of his fellow MP Imran Ahmad Khan who sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy in 2008.

Mr Blunt said the Wakefield MP was the victim of a “dreadful miscarriage of justice”, which met with such a backlash he had to apologise and resign from his role on the cross-party LGBT group.

County Cllr John Furey

Cllr Furey told the PCC: “You may take umbrage at Crispin Blunt – and I would take umbrage of any MP who supports an MP who’s just been found guilty in court.

“But it’s not about personalities. There were two other complaints involved in that.”

He told her he believed all panel members had received “either supporting or unsupporting emails, in fact quite strong emails against your attitude”.

She responded: “The panel has requested that I explain myself, not that I apologise, not that I retract the tweet or delete it but that I write a letter of explanation.

“And I have decided that my actions and what I said does not require a further explanation. It’s that simple.”

Cllr Fury said: “If you are not legally bound to do so then we need to look again at how the complaints panel works.”

“The panel has no power,” said chairman Cllr Reeve. “The acid test is in the ballot box vote, and that’s the view of the legal people.”

See also: Councillor Complains of Party Politically Motivated Motions on Borough Council’s Agenda

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