Commissioner must apologise over social media posts

Conservative candidate Festus Akinbusoye in a dark blue suit, light blue shirt and yellow tie
Mr Akinbusoye said he "rejects and refutes the findings of the panel" [Ben Schofield/BBC]

Bedfordshire's police and crime commissioner has been reprimanded over comments he made to a member of the public on social media.

Conservative Festus Akinbusoye has been ordered to apologise after he alleged the individual had misused public funds.

He has also been told to be more professional on social platforms and ensure he uses accurate and reliable data in posts.

Mr Akinbusoye said he "totally rejects and refutes the findings and will be responding fully as part of the formal process in due course".

Bedfordshire's police and crime panel complaints sub committee concluded 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, with particular reference to the principles of openness and leadership.

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

It also ruled Mr Akinbusoye made statements on social media "in particular a reference to Psalm 59 of the Bible" which implied the complainant was "an enemy."

It added he had made comments on social media which were "disrespectful" to members of the public and elected councillors who it said he referred to as “so-called independents”.

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.

'Very concerning'

In response, Mr 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."

He added: "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, despite receiving the complaint from a well-known serial complainant nearly six weeks before the date, and then further enabled the outcome to be released by the serial complainant."

He also told the BBC: "The timing of the panel's intervention is therefore deeply regrettable.

"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, 2 May, while continuing to fulfil all my duties on behalf of residents."

The hearing was held in private in March, but the BBC was sent the minutes and the outcome.

"The panel said its decision forms the culmination of its dealings with this complaint and that there was no right of appeal.

A spokesperson for Bedford Borough Council said: "On March 25, the police and crime panel considered a complaint against the crime commissioner.

"The outcome of the complaint was subsequently notified on a confidential basis to the complainant and to the commissioner."

They added: “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.

"We have now written to ask them both for their comments but have not heard back yet. This process is ongoing.”

Mr Akinbusoye is one of four candidates seeking election having held the post since 2021.

"The others are Waheed Akbar (The Workers Party of Britain), Jasbir Singh Parmar (Liberal Democrats) and John Tizard (Labour).

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