South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Alun Michael has dismissed calls for his deputy to resign if she is selected as a Labour parliamentary candidate.
Sophie Howe, appointed the £65,886 Deputy PCC in February, is one of four candidates on an all-female Labour shortlist for the hotly-contested Cardiff North seat at the 2015 general election.
The Conservative candidate Craig Williams, who is aiming to replace current Tory MP Jonathan Evans, who is not standing again, said: “When the PCC was elected, they had to sign a declaration of impartiality.
“The deputy should honour the apolitical role of the police and I cannot see that happening with Sophie Howe standing as Labour candidate.
“She should stand down. I do not see how the two are compatible – you are either standing up for Cardiff North or standing up for South Wales Police.”
Liberal Democrat group leader on Cardiff council, Judith Woodman, added: “If she is going to stand as an MP, then she should stand down as Deputy PCC as I believe there will be a conflict of interest.
“She is party to information in relation to policing which will probably give her an advantage over any other candidates who wish to raise an issue of policing and crime.”
But Mr Michael stood by Mrs Howe, who is a former Labour councillor for Whitchurch and Tongwynlais and ex-Welsh Government special adviser.
Mr Michael said: “The comments from the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives amount to an unpleasant partisan attack on a distinguished public servant.
“I appointed Sophie Howe in February as my Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, based on her wealth of experience, skills and knowledge. There is no reason why she cannot carry on this role if she were successfully selected as the Labour candidate for Cardiff North.
“It was the decision of the Conservative ministers that the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner position is not politically restricted, which means there is no restrictions on public political activity, nor to announce candidature for election to the House of Commons.
“On election, I swore an oath, in which I promised to serve the people of South Wales and giving a voice to the public, especially victims of crime.
“These principles are being followed with enthusiasm by Sophie and all members of my team.
“There is no more a conflict of interest in this post than for a councillor standing in the general election. So perhaps Councillor Williams should question his own conscience before launching a pitiful attack on others.”
Mrs Howe added: “The oath of the Commissioner is very much at the forefront of my mind, because it sets out the principles that Alun expects to be put into practice by all members of his team, which I absolutely support.”
Local Labour members will select their candidate for the Cardiff North seat in a ballot on Saturday. The other candidates are Jayne Brencher, Helen Wilkinson and Mari Williams.