A high-profile candidate campaigning to become one of the Government’s new elected Police and Crime Commissioners is being secretly backed by American neo-conservative lobbyists and companies pushing for police privatisation.
Mervyn Barrett has flooded Lincolnshire with expensive leaflets, free DVDs and full-page newspaper adverts in his bid to be elected as its policing supremo next month.
Unusually for a rural local election, he has employed professional campaign staff, commissioned weekly opinion polls, opened “field offices” and is driven in a chauffeured Mercedes.
He has poured tens of thousands of pounds into the elections, far more than any other candidate anywhere else in Britain.
Mr Barrett describes himself as an “independent”, opposed to “party politics” in policing. He has refused to disclose who is funding him, despite widespread local suspicions generated by the intensity and professionalism of his campaign.
However, it can now be revealed that it has been run by a team from a US-based neo-conservative think tank, the Fund for the New American Century, funded in part by a variety of corporate donors with an interest in public-sector privatisation.
The entire campaign team resigned yesterday within hours of being contacted by The Sunday Telegraph.
Lincolnshire may have been chosen because the county’s police are already “outsourcing” pioneers.
The troubled firm G4S has recently taken over key functions at the force, including its custody suites, central control room and firearms licensing department. G4S also plans a new central police station in a village outside Lincoln, with the existing city centre station closed and sold for housing.
After G4S’s security failures at the Olympics, Mr Barrett strongly backed the company, saying that the Lincolnshire deal was “working well.” He attacked his rival candidates, who suggested cancelling the deal, for making “bankrupt promises” and “playing politics”.
Investigation of Mr Barrett’s campaign website reveals that it is registered to a New York and Washington-based “political action committee”, MatthewPAC, part of The Fund for the New American Century, whose website says it is “dedicated to building America’s future by supporting candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation”.
The fund is expanding in Europe and is advertising for a UK-based “assistant to the executive chairman” on a salary of up to £55,000.
Mr Barrett’s campaign has also advertised for staff, speaking of the “sophisticated and wide-ranging support available from our US and UK-based consultants”.
The Sunday Telegraph has established that Matthew de Unger Brown, Mr Barrett’s “special adviser”, campaign manager and press spokesman until yesterday, is also chairman of the Fund for the New American Century
“We support Republican candidates. It is a centre-Right organisation,” Mr de Unger Brown said. “I don’t think that neo-con would be an unfair description.”...
...Mr de Unger Brown said that his organisation was also backing other Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) candidates elsewhere in England...
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