Police chief ignores crime panel to appoint disgraced former councillor as deputy
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has appointed a disgraced former councillor as his deputy despite cross-party opposition from his own crime panel.
Labour PCC David Jamieson has hired his former assistant Waheed Saleem for the £56,000-a-year role, describing West Midlands Police and Crime Panel's rejection of his suitability as "ill-founded and cheap".
Conservative and Labour councillors on the panel – which scrutinises the work of the PCC – are furious at Mr Jamieson's response.
They have accusing him of ignoring the democratic process and say they plan to raise the matter with Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Panel member Councillor Mike Bird, the leader of Walsall Council, said: "This is totally and utterly irresponsible from the Police and Crime Commissioner.
"He clearly thinks he is above the democratic process. He ought to accept the fact that this is a situation that is not going to go away and in fact, is now going to escalate to a higher level.
"I will be bringing the matter to the attention of the Home Secretary."
Mr Saleem's appointment had been opposed on a number of grounds, including that he was unfit for the role having previously been banned from holding public office for leaking sensitive information when he was a Labour councillor in Walsall.
In a letter to Mr Jamieson concerns were also raised over some of Mr Saleem's past social media posts, while the PCC was urged to scrap the appointment and re-advertise the position.
In response, Mr Jamieson said the panel's recommendation was "unhelpful". He said launching a new recruitment exercise for the post would be time consuming and make him "less able" to carry out his job.
He said the appointment of a deputy was his responsibility alone and that Mr Saleem was "the ideal candidate to take up this role immediately and work with me through the national emergency".
Mr Jamieson defended his deputy for posting "controversial" material on social media, saying they were part of his "status as a public figure who comments on high profile issues".
He also accused the panel of double standards and said that in the past it had repeatedly failed to support and scrutinise his direction of the force.
Mr Jamieson said: "The panel's recommendation is ill-founded and cheap.
"Waheed will serve the public of the West Midlands as Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, ensuring West Midlands Police continues to be an efficient and effective police force during a period of unprecedented national challenge."
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