BUT PARTY CHIEFS HIT BACK, BLAST­ING HER VOT­ING RECORD AND ACCUSING HER OF BE­ING‘IN­EF­FEC­TIVE’

Bangor Mail - - News - Sarah Hodg­son

A NORTH Wales AM has quit Ukip over its as­so­ci­a­tion with far­right ac­tivist Tommy Robinson.

Michelle Brown has cut ties with the party af­ter it was re­vealed Robinson would be spon­sor­ing a Ukip Brexit event this week.

She is now the fourth As­sem­bly mem­ber to leave the party since 2016.

How­ever, Ukip lead­ers have hit back at Ms Brown’s claims, say­ing she has a poor at­ten­dance in the As­sem­bly and is only quit­ting to “avoid fac­ing cen­sure”.

Ms Brown said she had fears over the party’s re­la­tion­ship with Robinson – whose real name is Stephen Christo­pher Yax­ley-Len­non – when Ukip Wales leader Neil Hamil­ton ap­peared along­side him at the “Brexit Be­trayal” march in De­cem­ber 2018.

But the fi­nal straw ap­pears to be that NORTH Wales’ Police and Crime Com­mis­sioner Ar­fon Jones has been renom­i­nated to run again for the role in 2020.

The com­mis­sioner has said he will make pro­tect­ing the el­derly from scam­mers a priority for his next term.

Mr Jones, a re­tired police in­spec­tor and for­mer Wrex­ham county coun­cil­lor, re­ceived the sup­port from mem­bers of Plaid Cymru at the party’s con­fer­ence in Ban­gor last week­end.

He has been in post since 2016 and has hit na­tional headlines sev­eral times with his cam­paigns around the de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of cannabis in­clud­ing sug­gest­ing the drug could be sold in off-li­cences. Robinson, who is a po­lit­i­cal adviser to Ukip leader Ger­ard Bat­ten, has now of­fered to spon­sor the Ukip: Make Brexit Hap­pen event on Friday, March 29 in White­hall.

Ms Brown in­sisted that her for­mer party’s crit­i­cism of her As­sem­bly record were in­cor­rect: “I am very of­ten at the As­sem­bly, work­ing, and ask­ing ques­tions in the Cham­ber but then not vot­ing for the reason al­ready stated, so it is ut­terly wrong to as­so­ciate a vot­ing record with at­ten­dance. “On one of the oc­ca­sions, for ex­am­ple I was on a trip to the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment with fel­low AMs from all par­ties, on the Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs com­mit­tee, work­ing

Speak­ing to the Lo­cal Democ­racy Ser­vice Mr Jones said he was proud of his achieve­ments in of­fice. These in­clude the in­tro­duc­tion of body worn videos on of­fi­cers which he said had helped to avoid ma­li­cious al­le­ga­tions against police of­fi­cers.

He also set up the first modern slav­ery unit in Wales which tack­les the use of force to re­cruit or move peo­ple for the pur­pose of ex­ploita­tion.

Mr Jones said there had been a 35% re­duc­tion in re­peat do­mes­tic vi­o­lence of­fences since he took of­fice. On his on Brexit as I hoped the Ukip group would do. In­stead, they seem to pre­fer spend­ing their time on pe­riph­ery is­sues like abol­ish­ing the Welsh As­sem­bly and Is­lam-bash­ing.”

She also la­belled the party group in the Welsh As­sem­bly as a “boys’ club”.

It no longer has any fe­male mem­bers af­ter Caro­line Jones re­signed and Mandy Jones was ex­cluded.

Gareth Ben­nett, leader of the Ukip group in the Welsh As­sem­bly, and Mr Hamil­ton, have at­tacked Ms Brown over the claims.

Mr Ben­nett said: “This comes as no sur­prise as Michelle has been on the pe­riph­ery of the Ukip Group for some time, and has largely ex­cluded her­self from the group’s busi­ness.

“She has one of the worst at­ten­dance and vot­ing records in the Welsh As­sem­bly.

“Her North Wales of­fice hasn’t pri­or­i­ties for his next term he said he saw the role of the police as be­ing the pro­tec­tor of the vul­ner­a­ble. This would in­clude set­ting up a spe­cial unit to pro­tect the el­derly from fi­nan­cial fraud.

He said: “I also want to see more sup­port for vic­tims and wit­nesses, we can do a lot bet­ter in com­pli­ance with the vic­tim code of prac­tice. We have vic­tim sup­port of­fi­cers who can pro­vide ad­vice. So if some­one has been a vic­tim of fraud they would help with contact of their bank. If you’re vul­ner­a­ble you might not know what to do, so been open for months.

“She should now do the hon­ourable thing and resign her seat, as she urged Nathan Gill to do when he left the Group.”

Mr Hamil­ton said: “Michelle has not voted in nine out of 17 ple­nary ses­sions this year, and her seat is usu­ally va­cant.

“Jour­nal­ists have noted this, and fol­low­ing a me­dia en­quiry last week, Michelle was asked for com­ment but de­clined to re­ply to our own group of­fice’s en­quiries.

“It seems she has jumped ship to avoid fac­ing cen­sure from the group for her clear lack of com­mit­ment to her party and her con­stituents.”

Ukip leader Mr Bat­ten said: “While we are dis­ap­pointed to lose a mem­ber, Michelle Brown proved her­self to be sin­gu­larly in­ef­fec­tive as a mem­ber of the Welsh As­sem­bly or in as­sist­ing Ukip build sup­port in Wales.” it’s hav­ing some­one there to ad­vise and rep­re­sent you. I want to see more work done along these lines.”

He added: “A lot of older peo­ple lose con­fi­dence af­ter they have been a vic­tim of a crime in­volv­ing a breach of trust like fraud.

“Crim­i­nals are more adept at get­ting to peo­ple, they ring them up with a story and they per­suade them to hand over pass­words and things like that which al­lows them to ac­cess their bank de­tails. We need to be ahead of the curve, we are for­ever try­ing to catch up. But we can do a lot more pre­ven­ta­tive work around fraud.”

● Ar­fon Jones

● Michelle Brown and Tommy Robinson

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