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Michael Mates stands by backing for Asil Nadir
A MAN bidding to be elected as Hampshire's police commissioner insists he has “nothing to be ashamed of” over links to one of Britain’s most notorious fraudsters.
Michael Mates told the Daily Echo he stood by his backing for Polly Peck tycoon Asil Nadir, who was jailed last month after being convicted on £29m fraud charges.
Mr Mates had resigned from the Government in 1993 after presenting Nadir with a watch inscribed “Don’t let the buggers get you down”.
He is now the Conservative Party candidate for November's Police and Crime Commissioner election.
Graham Burges, the deputy leader of Gosport Borough Council, said: “I believe the candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner should be beyond reproach and this candidate still has some questions to answer.
“I believe he should stand down and I have been contacted by many Hampshire members who have expressed a similar view.”
Yesterday David Cameron was pressed to give Mr Mates his backing during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Asked by a Labour MP whether he had full confidence in his “police commissioner candidate for Hampshire”, Mr Cameron replied that the elections had not yet taken place, saying the reforms would make the police more accountable, and hoping people would all vote for their local candidate.
In his first interview since the jailing of Nadir, Mr Mates told the Daily Echo he had resigned from the Government because of the way the media was covering the row, saying: “I became an embarrassment. It was my decision.”
He added: “Every single thing that I alleged when I was taking up the case has turned out to be true... I have a clear conscience about it all.”
Mr Mates said he was sure his political opponents would try to use it against him: “I am aware that it will come up, I have absolutely nothing to hide.”
Mr Mates said he had been supported at the time by the then Prime Minister, John Major, adding: “The fact that he’s convicted 20 years later is neither here nor there.”
He said he had not seen Nadir since the fugitive returned to the country to face trial.
The 78-year-old insisted the affair had taught him the need for close scrutiny of public officials, something he pledged to continue if elected to the new job.
Also running for the £80,000 job, which will replace Hampshire Police Authority, are Southampton Labour councillor Jacqui Rayment and i n d e pendent candidate and Crimestoppers chief Simon Hayes.