Failed Wiltshire PCC candidate has second historic criminal offence, ITV investigation finds

  • Watch Robert Murphy's report here.

The Conservative politician who was elected Police and Crime Commissioner – and was then forced to withdraw – has a second conviction which prevents him from taking office, an ITV News investigation has found.

Jonathon Seed’s campaign was backed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

But as the votes came in confirming his victory in the Wiltshire election in May, Mr Seed made a statement saying he could not take the job because of a historic drink-driving offence.

Now, following weeks of investigation, ITV News has discovered a second conviction – a hit and run offence - which would also have prevented Mr Seed from becoming PCC.

It raises questions about how the Conservative Party vets its candidates. 

Mr Seed’s withdrawal also means a second election must be held, costing the taxpayer an estimated £1.5million.

Jonathon Seed and Boris Johnson

Mr Seed, a former Army Major and Master of a hunt, has been a big figure in Conservative Party politics for decades. He is a County Councillor and was a political agent to MPs including the Universities Minister Michelle Donelan, Danny Kruger and James Gray.

He was nominated as the party’s PCC candidate three years ago.

But sources told ITV News there was something in Mr Seed’s past which would prevent him from taking the position – if he were to win May’s election.

The ITV News investigators searched decades old newspaper archives, the National Archive at Kew and spoke with those who served with him in the army.

The ITV News investigation seems to have led to the Conservative Party asking Mr Seed again about his past and his admission about drink-driving.

Now an application for court archive records has revealed the second conviction - not previously made public - as well as more details about his first offence.

The court documents showing Jonathon Seed's second conviction.

Other candidates in the PCC election told ITV News they were furious Mr Seed had a second offence.

Brian Mathew, the Liberal Democrat candidate said: "It’s a massive waste of money and time for everyone in Wiltshire. Re-running this election’s costing £1.5million pounds already, it’s a real mess from the Conservative Party."

Junab Ali, Labour’s PCC candidate said: "I thought drink-driving was bad enough, but hit and run compounds with this issue with Jonathon Seed not being truthful with what his past records were.

"It has put the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner in a precarious situation. We don’t have an elected PCC to hold the Chief Constable and the force to account all because of Councillor Seed’s action of standing for PCC with those criminal records."

And Independent candidate Mike Rees said: "Mr Seed hasn’t mentioned it previously, there was just an issue around drink-drive as far as I’m aware. There was no mention of a fail to stop after an accident."

A source told ITV News the party knew nothing about a second offence.

Mr Seed seemed to be cruising to victory in May’s election, before a confrontation with an ITV News reporter. Mr Seed was asked if he had any previous convictions and he refused to answer.

But three days after the election, and the day before votes were counted confirming his victory, Mr Seed made a statement.

He said: “In 1993 I was convicted of an offence of driving with excess alcohol. I was fined and disqualified from driving for a period of 18 months. I was neither sentenced to a term of imprisonment, nor, under the sentencing authorities could I have been. I therefore did not regard this an ‘imprisonable offence’.”

Mr Seed said he told the party about his drink-drive conviction in 2011 and 2018.

"I sought and received assurance from the Conservative Party that I was not disqualified by reason of this conviction. At all times up until the evening of 6 May the advice given to me by party officials was that I was not," the May 9 statement said.

But unlike being an MP, a cabinet member or Prime Minister, the law states a PCC must not have a criminal record for an offence which carries the possibility of jail.

Mr Seed tried to withdraw from the race. But election guidelines prevent this from happening and he was declared the winner in his absence. He polled more than 80,000 votes, 40% in the first round. He won comfortably in the second round run-off.

An image from Jonathon Seed's campaign showed him with Home Secretary Priti Patel Credit: Jonathon Seed's PCC campaign

Mr Seed made no reference in his statement that at the same 1993 court hearing he admitted a ‘fail to stop’ offence relating to his car hitting another vehicle in the same incident, which carries a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment. ITV News understands no-one was injured. 

Mr Seed has been interviewed by Thames Valley Police detectives about his candidacy and attempted withdrawal. ITV News understands he denies acting dishonestly.

Thames Valley Police told ITV News: “Thames Valley Police are conducting an investigation in relation to the 2021 Wiltshire and Swindon Police and Crime Commissioner election. We can confirm that as part of this process the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service has been sought. The investigation is ongoing and we are not in a position to provide further comment at this time.”

Mr Seed told ITV News: “Thames Valley Police have investigated all allegations which include the two historic driving convictions you have referred to and evidence of my declarations regarding these to the Conservative Party. I have fully cooperated with TVP as part of their investigation. Given the investigation is ongoing it would not be appropriate for me to make any further comment at this time.”

ITV News discovered the detail of Cllr Seed’s conviction history after applying to the Ministry of Justice and Swindon Magistrates’ Court archives.

Court records show Mr Seed was charged after he was caught driving while nearly three times over the alcohol limit in the Wiltshire village of Netheravon in July 1992. At that time, Mr Seed was a Major in the Royal Artillery.

At his third hearing, in October 1992, court records show he was still pleading not guilty to three offences: drink-driving, fail to stop and not leaving his name and address following a crash.

In March 1993, at a hearing before Kennet Magistrates, Mr Seed admitted the drink-drive and fail to stop charges and the third charge was withdrawn. He was fined £450 for the drink-driving offence and £50 for the failure to stop. ITV News understands no-one was hurt in Mr Seed’s crash.

Under election rules, once nominations have closed, a candidate is unable to withdraw. So Cllr Seed was elected PCC, while never actually taking the job. The role is being fulfilled temporarily by an unelected official until a PCC is elected in August.