Council backs Hartlepool woman's campaign to stop sex offenders standing for public office
Council chiefs are to write to the Government demanding legislative change to stop registered sex offenders standing for public office any more.
It came after Sarah Gate, from Hartlepool, started a petition earlier this year after a candidate in the town’s Parliamentary by-election admitted he has a conviction for voyeurism.
Following the success of the petition, which has almost 34,000 signatures to date, a motion went before Hartlepool Borough Council’s latest full meeting.
Signed by all 36 councillors, they unanimously backed taking action to call for registered sex offenders to be banned from standing for public office.
The council will now write to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, demanding legislative change as a matter of urgency.
The motion was put forward by Cllr Mike Young, deputy council leader, who praised the work of Ms Gate, along with Sacha Bedding and Teresa Driver, of the town’s Wharton Trust, who supported the campaign.
He said: “This year we saw a registered sex offender able to become a candidate for the prestigious position of member of parliament.
“We have a real issue with legislation in this country and the Representation of the People Act doesn’t quite meet the standard of where we are as a society.
“The fact that in Hartlepool of all places sex offenders can stand for public office, be it councillor or as an MP, I think that’s highly distressing.”
The petition came after Christopher Killick, an independent candidate in the May Parliamentary by-election, admitted he is a registered sex offender after being convicted in London for voyeurism last year.
Killick was fined, ordered to pay his victim compensation and placed on a community order by London magistrates.
Current law, however, mainly bans people from standing for Parliament if they have been previously locked up for more than a year.
Killick, who received 248 votes in the by-election count, confirmed during his campaign that he had not declared his conviction on any election forms and did not tell anyone who nominated him.
He said at the time: "There's nothing barring me, if I'd been to prison then I wouldn't have been able to stand.
"I would have told them if it had come up or if I had been asked, I told them my name."