A Labour Party agent has been jailed for a third time for paedophilia. Andrew Palmer, 52, was sentenced to twenty months in jail after twice breaching a sexual offences order and a community order, the Peterborough Telegraph has reported.
Palmer has a total of seven previous convictions for 13 offences dating all the way back to 1979, when he was convicted for indecent assault. He had been in jail again as recently as 2007, when he was sentenced to eight months for possession of indecent images of children.
Then in October 2014 he was handed a sexual prevention order for breaching a previous order, which banned him from unsupervised contact with minors and certain activities on the internet. On December 29th he breached that order by paying an unexpected visit to a mother and her daughter at their home. The mother was unaware of his previous convictions, or of the order which prevented him spending time with her daughter.
And on 2nd February 2015 he breached the order again, admitting to officers who arrested him that he had deleted a number of messages off his WhatsApp account on his mobile phone. He would not reveal the content of the messages.
Craig McDougall, prosecuting, said: “The local constabulary have significant concerns about him,” telling the court that the police had given Palmer the highest rating for a sexual offender.
Despite his past, his defence council Edward Barr argued that Palmer ought to receive a suspended sentence, arguing “This is not the most serious of breaches. It’s likely the circumstances of the 29th of December suggest something sinister in him going to the house and being in the company of the child, but his previous behaviour in their presence had not been suspicious.
“There has been no attempt at supervision or therapy. No matter what the outcome of today is, his life in the part of Peterborough that he lives in will be in trouble. I would ask for one last chance for him.”
Judge Peter Murphey disagreed. Sentencing Palmer on Wednesday, he said: “It seems clear to me that you were aware from the end of October that not only you were barred from certain activity on the internet, but not to have unsupervised contact with young children without informing a parent or guardian of previous convictions. You turned up under cover of working with a housing association. You had several phones with you and the implication was clear.
“On the second count, there is not much information on what was deleted on your phone. But a previous matter indicated you have a clear interest in paedophilia and the pornographic images of young children.”
Describing Palmer as a real risk to the public, Judge Murphy added: “It’s quite clear your offences were a calculated defiance of court orders.”
Palmer was handed eight month sentences for each breach of the sexual offenses prevention order, and a further four months for breach of another community order. The mother in the case has said “I wish he had got longer. I was shocked. We knew nothing.”
The Labour party has sought to distance themselves from Palmer following his conviction. He had been the party’s agent during the 2012 Peterborough City Council elections, managing the campaigns for labour group leader Nazim Khan, as well as Jo Johnson and Richard Knowles. He was also photographed with Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Peterborough, Lisa Forbes.
Cllr Johnson told the Peterborough Telegraph: “He ran my council campaign in 2012. I don’t think anybody knew about him. I must admit I liked him to start with but I’m disgusted now.”
But Cllr Khan denied knowing Palmer, saying “This is the first I knew about his previous history and I’m shocked. I personally don’t know him.”
Their colleague Cllr Knowles, who has since become an Independent, said “He was a really nasty piece of work, but there’s no way you could have known his past.”
Labour councillors for Peterborough were told to direct any queries to the East of England spokesman, who confirmed that Palmer will be expelled from the party. He would not confirm which roles Palmer had played within the party or for how long he had been involved, nor whether anyone in the party knew of Palmers previous convictions. He also declined to give any comment as to what the party thought of Palmer’s convictions.