THE newly elected head of West Mercia Police has suggested he should have held a ‘sham selection’ process before appointing his deputy.
Bill Longmore, the new police and crime commissioner, seemed to suggest that he regretted not duping the public into thinking his deputy had been chosen by a selection process.
It follows widespread criticism of Mr Longmore for appointing his former colleague Barrie Sheldon to the £50,000 a year role.
Although he denies the pair are friends, his former election campaign publicity officer did not have to undergo any selection procedure before being given the job.
During an interview with BBC Hereford and Worcester Mr Longmore said his only regret was not holding a rigged selection process before handing the job to Mr Sheldon.
Asked if he would have done anything differently since winning the election two months ago, he replied: “If I’d have thought about it I could have had a sham selection, if you like, put some people in on selection.”
At that point he is interrupted by an astonished-sounding reporter Nicola Goodwin, who asks “what faked it?”.
To which he replies he’d have invited “someone” to take part as a rival contender but declared Mr Sheldon the successful candidate.
“I could have appointed him and everybody would have been happy then,” he says.
It was then put to Mr Longmore that he “would have pretended to be democratic then”, to which he replied: “no, no, that’s the thing I wouldn’t do - I would (have been) honest that Barry’s got the qualities I would seek”, before saying no rules were broken.
Mr Longmore, who is on £75,000 a year, appointed Mr Sheldon as his deputy despite the watchdog-style Police and Crime Panel recommending it not go ahead.
The panel said there was no “open or transparent process” in the selection, that the salary was random and that the duo were old work colleagues in Staffordshire Police.
Worcestershire’s Labour group deputy leader Councillor Alan Amos said: “Many people were bitterly disappointed with the way he completely ignored the advice given to him when appointing his deputy.
“It was very unwise and unacceptable. This is a position which affects every single person in Worcester and the concern over the way he’s handled himself is unprecedented.”
Mr Longmore was unavailable to comment, but his press team said the interview had come across the wrong way.
Mr Sheldon said: “What he (Mr Longmore) was trying to say is that if he’d carried out a proper interview process and still selected me - and there was a good chance he would - the public would still have said it was a sham. It was a no-win situation.”
To listen to the interview visit http://audioboo.fm/boos/1151635-police-and-crime-commissioner#t=3m15s.