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Police commissioner Bill Longmore defends decision over deputy

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Shropshire's policing commissioner Bill Longmore has said suggestions he appointed his election agent as his £50,000-a-year deputy due to their friendship are 'misleading and wrong' as he faces calls to resign.

Mr Longmore said his fellow former Staffordshire policeman Barrie Sheldon was given the job on merit, due to his extensive and wide-ranging experience in the police and as a university lecturer.

He made the comments ahead of a meeting of Worcestershire County Council on Thursday, where the Labour group are calling for a vote of no confidence in the pair.

Councillor Alan Amos, Labour group deputy leader on Worcestershire County Council, said the appointment of Mr Sheldon against the advice of the West Mercia police and crime panel was an 'appalling decision'.

But Mr Longmore staunchly defended the appointment today, saying he followed a 'lawful and proper process'.

"I totally refute the allegation which some have made that my choice of Mr Sheldon was because of a long-held friendship and not based on merit," he said.

"As a university lecturer in policing studies Mr Sheldon has a wealth of knowledge and skills of great use in this role.

"It was because of those skills I asked him to assist in my election campaign.

"I had no association with Mr Sheldon before that time save that some 28 years ago he was a junior officer in the same police force.

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"I hardly knew him then and had no contact with him whatsoever since that time until I sought his assistance with my election.

"To say I have simply appointed a friend or someone without merit is simply misleading and wrong."

Mr Longmore also claimed Mr Sheldon's £50,000 annual salary was relatively low.

"The salary chosen for Mr Sheldon's post reflects the very taxing and full time role it entails but as far as can be established is, pro-rata, one of the lowest paid deputies or assistants yet appointed," he said.

"It is some 65 per cent of my salary, which is a lower percentage than the norm usually applied to deputy positions in the public sector.

"The former Police Authority did an excellent job and I intend to build on that fabulous inheritance."

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