London Tory MP candidate forced to withdraw campaign leaflets after police complaint

Hannah Gray has withdrawn her leaflets (ES)
Hannah Gray has withdrawn her leaflets (ES)

A Tory MP candidate has been forced to withdraw thousands of campaign leaflets following a complaint by the Metropolitan Police.

Hannah Gray, who is standing in Beckenham and Penge in south-east London, included photos of her and police Superintendent Luke Baldock in flyers that were being sent to homes across Bromley.

But the force and Mr Baldock protested that the image was used without their knowledge and was against electoral rules because it suggested the high ranking officer was backing the Conservative candidate at the general election.

At least several hundred of the leaflets are believed to have been posted before the mail out was stopped.

Conservative Candidate Hannah Gray has withdrawn her campaign leaflets (ES)
Conservative Candidate Hannah Gray has withdrawn her campaign leaflets (ES)

A Met spokesman said: “The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is aware of a leaflet being circulated by a candidate which included a picture of a MPS officer.

“The MPS has requested the candidate to withdraw the leaflet from circulation.

“The MPS is impartial and does not endorse any candidate. It does not control how images of officers are used in campaign literature.”

The force stressed that the photo had been taken before the election was called during Ms Gray’s work as a Bromley councillor.

Beckenham and Penge MP Hannah Gray’s new leaflet (Elliot Wagland)
Beckenham and Penge MP Hannah Gray’s new leaflet (Elliot Wagland)

A spokesman for Ms Gray’s campaign said: “As soon as we became aware of this issue, the delivery of these leaflets, which was done by a third party, was halted."

Labour branded the gaffe “sheer incompetence”.

A Party source added: “Anyone who has ever worked on an election knows you cannot use identifiable photos of police officers in election leaflets.

“At worst, it's a cynical attempt to portray the officer as endorsing the Tory candidate. If they can't even put out a leaflet properly, why would you want this person as your MP?"

The Beckenham and Penge seat was newly created under the recent boundary review and is one of the most marginal constituencies in London.

Former Tory MP Bob Stewart had represented Beckenham since 2010.

Ms Gray, a Conservative Bromley councillor and former opera singer, is hoping to retain the constituency for the party.

Liam Conlon, the son of Sir Keir Starmer’s chief of staff and partygate investigator Sue Gray, is standing for Labour candidate.