Police boss in pre-election race row

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Police and Crime commissioner Olly Martins has been reported to the police over his election tactics.

The sitting Labour candidate is alleged to have criminally breached the Representation of the People Act in his pre-election propaganda.

He could also be the subject of a civil court claim after inferring a rival PCC candidate representing the English Democrats is “Islamophobic”.

The battle began when Mr Martins wrote a three page pre-election leaflet and paid for 18,000 copies to be distributed in Bedford and Luton last week.

The entire leaflet is devoted to English Democrat candidate Toni Bugle, who says Burkas should be banned to make it easier to identify criminals.

Mr Martins’ headline was : “Don’t be conned by the Islamophbic English Democrats”. He urges voters to “ban the Bugle, not the Burka,” and states that the English Democrat party is “cut from the same cloth” as the English Defence League and Britain First.

It reproduces screen shots of tweets from 2013 that Ms Bugle claims were “doctored” at the time.

She said: “We have taken legal advice and been told Olly Martins’ leaflet has breached criminal laws as well as civil libel laws.

“We have reported the matter to police and will be pursuing a case against him.”

Ms Bugle works with Muslim women who have been victim of domestic or racial abuse, and takes exception at the word Islamophobic. She is the founder of MARIAS –Mothers Against Racial Islam and Sharia.

Mr Martins, who paid for the £3,000 leaflets himself, was unperturbed at Ms Bugle’s wrath.

“If that’s what the English Democrats think then I would argue to the contrary,” he said. “Clearly we can expect to hear from their lawyers, but I really am not worried. I have presented evidence for everything I said.”

Today’s vote for the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner is the only election taking place in Bedford this May. The EU referendum is in June.

Also standing is Conservative Kathryn Holloway, Linda Jack for Lib Dems and UKIP’s Duncan Strachan.