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Conservative crime commissioner who triggered police probes into opponents denies conflict of interest

A Tory crime commissioner who triggered two separate police investigations into political opponents during the recent local elections has hit out at critics warning they risk a repeat of the Jo Cox and David Amess tragedies.

Cleveland PCC Steve Turner cited the cases of the two murdered MPs as he said he had previously been the subject of threats and had to take security measures.

Conservative politician Sir David was killed during a constituency surgery in 2021, five years after Labour's Jo Cox was shot and stabbed.

He also again denied accusations of a conflict of interest after Sky News revealed two complaints he made led to inquiries by the force he oversees.

The code of conduct for police and crime commissioners says they must "not use the resources of the elected local policing body improperly for political purposes (including party political purposes)".

Mr Turner had been seeking to become a Tory councillor for Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council in this month's local elections, alongside his existing £73,300 role as PCC.

He failed in his bid, while his wife, formerly the Tory group leader on the council, narrowly lost out on a seat too.

During the campaign, Mr Turner twice alleged crimes were committed, leading to investigations by his local force.

One complaint was about a Labour election leaflet in Tory blue colours - which he thought might break electoral rules - which he referred to Redcar council who forwarded it automatically to the police.

The other complaint was about alleged harassment, which he alerted police to via the 101 hotline.

Leaflet 'upset Steve'

Mr Turner's complaint about the Labour election leaflet led to an inquiry which lasted almost a week.

It involved fraud officers making three home visits to see three different activists, where they were "interrogated" over the contents of their election literature.

Sky News has been told by one of those interviewed that the plain clothes policeman said they were investigating because an election leaflet had "upset Steve".

At the end of both investigations, police concluded there was no offence committed.

'Position untenable'

Labour has called for an investigation, while the Liberal Democrats said Mr Turner's position is untenable.

But in a statement, Mr Turner said his report to the monitoring officer "was in line with the process laid out ahead of these elections and related to a vile and misleading leaflet attacking me and my wife who were candidates in these elections".

He added: "At no point did I personally refer any political opponent to Cleveland Police.

"The call I did make to Cleveland Police related to malicious communications by a member of the public.

"This individual was spoken to on the phone, not in person, and I was informed a crime was recorded but no further action would be taken as it was unlikely to meet the threshold required by the CPS."

Mr Turner, who is a significant figure in North East politics, said it was "not the first time" local police had to "consider threats" against him.

"I've had cause to report issues previously and there is currently an individual detained under the mental health act awaiting charge for credible threats against me," he said.

"For Labour Party members and activists to fuel a suggestion that myself or my family shouldn't report incidents such as this risks them creating another tragedy along the lines of Jo Cox or David Amiss [sic]."

'Panic alarm'

Separately, he told The Sunday Times: "My wife has to carry a panic alarm, and we have a panic alarm box installed in the house, all at my own expense.

"My families' addresses are being monitored by police for security, so that if there is a 999 call from one of those addresses it is flagged immediately - and that is because of the vitriol that's out there."

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Handling stolen goods

He previously told the BBC he had received a police caution for handling stolen goods to the value of £15.

Anneliese Dodds, Labour's chairwoman, said the matter "must be investigated fully".

She added: "Any sense of police resources being wasted for political purposes would be extremely serious."

Conservative Cabinet minister Grant Shapps, speaking to Sky News's Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, declined to comment in detail on the case.

He said there is a process in place to look into such matters and it is important they are "properly followed".