CAMBS: Police Commissioner hopeful to face criminal damage charge

SELECTION of the Conservative nominee for the new Cambridgeshire Police Commissioner post took a twist yesterday (Tuesday) after a leading contender appeared in court on a criminal damage charge.

County Councillor Shona Johnstone appeared before Cambridge magistrates to face a single allegation of criminal damage to a van at Over on February 23.

The Willingham councillor has protested her innocence and will defend the charge at a trial fixed for August 28.

The case yesterday was opened and adjourned following her plea of not guilty, but the charge has clouded her political prospects.

Many of her closest supporters have urged her to continue as a candidate although, ironically, she may have to withdraw from Cambridgeshire Police Authority where she has been a county council nominee since 2008.

The commissioner selection process this weekend moves to the next stage and will involve five other Tory hopefuls – including former Luton MP Sir Graham Bright, a former PPS to John Major, and John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce. The aim will be to whittle down the short list to between two and four and move to a final selection at the beginning of July.

Cllr Johnstone, who has been a Conservative party member for 25 years and is a former council leader, has been urged by fellow Cambridgeshire Tories to continue with her campaign, The Hunts Post understands.

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She has been suspended from the Conservative group on the county council pending the outcome of the trial.