Bedfordshire PCC’s public spat with news website

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Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway attracted unwanted attention after making accusations against a news website that turned out to be wrong.

Police Oracle is a news website billed as the “UK’s largest provider of police news and information” and heavily subscribed to by serving and retired police officers.

On December 12, it published a report of the most recent Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel meeting. It included details that HM Inspector Zoe Billingham had stepped aside following Mrs Holloway’s complaint against HMIC, in which she accused the regulator of a lack of impartiality following several poor inspections.

It also included the PCC’s quote that she was hoping for a “sea change” with the appointment of HM Inspector Thomas Parr – formerly a rear admiral.

Three days later, Mrs Holloway took to Twitter to criticise the Oracle’s article.

She posted: “Police Oracle - if you want to quote me please have the courtesy to contact me rather than report hearsay or attend the Panel for accuracy.

“Have spoken to Police and Crime Panel Chair who expressed his horror at the inaccuracy of the Police Oracle report. It will be investigated.”

Panel chairman Paul Cain replied to Mrs Holloway’s tweet and also accused Police Oracle of inaccuracy.

But the PCC and Mr Cain appeared to be unaware that a full recording of the panel meeting was available on Bedford Borough Council’s website and that Police Oracle had in fact recorded her comments verbatim.

Police Oracle reported that when phoned by their reporter, Mr Cain accused fellow panel members of tipping off the press with “the specific intention of undermining the PCC” despite the PPC’s comments being made in a public forum.

Beds Police and Crime Panel is the body responsible for holding the PCC to account.

Mrs Holloway later posted: “The problem with quoting a Police & Crime Panel conversation is that in an excerpt in black and white, no humour or tone can be translated.”

Police Oracle’s editor Martin Buhagiar tweeted to Mrs Holloway: “Deeply embarrassing for you and your office. Our article is unchanged, anyone can read it and listen to your comments made at the police and crime panel. All will wonder what point you are attempting to make.”

Mrs Holloway’s office declined to comment on the issue.

A Beds Police and Crime Panel spokesman said it was looking into the matter but failed to respond before we went to press.