A registered sex offender has been confirmed as a candidate in the crucial upcoming by-election in Hartlepool.
Christopher Killick, who is standing as an independent in the contest, admitted to one count of voyeurism last year after recording a woman naked in a hotel room while she slept.
The 41-year-old was given a 30-month community order, ordered to pay £5,000 to his victim and also put on the Sexual Offenders Register for five years.
Killick said he wanted to try and fulfil his ambition of becoming an MP, despite knowing there would be a lot of “negativity” about being a registered sex offender.
He also admitted he had not put his sex offence on his election leaflets. “I do understand how it will be difficult for some people, perhaps everyone, to trust me,” he told the Teesside Live website.
“When I didn’t put the sex offence on my election leaflet, I did that because I wanted to see whether I’d be ‘found out’. I suppose I knew it was going to come out eventually. I’ve been punished and I’m still being punished.”
The candidate added: “I know there is going to be a lot of negativity, but I feel that if I don’t try, I will never know whether I can make impact or impression in politics … It’s always been my ambition to be an MP.”
There is currently nothing to prevent registered sex offenders from standing to become an MP. Only those who have been convicted of a crime resulting in more than a year in jail are not allowed to stand as a parliamentary candidate, according to the Electoral Commission.
However, sex offenders cannot run for a seat as a local councillor or mayor under updated disqualification rules for local government announced in 2018.
Killick was initially arrested on suspicion of rape of the woman he filmed at a hotel in 2015, but police dropped the case because of a lack of evidence.
The victim of his voyeurism alleged she had been drugged and raped by at a hotel room in Bethnal Green, east London, with no memory of how she came to be there.
Prosecutors initially said his filming of the woman was not illegal – until the Court of Appeal clarified the law and he was charged with one count of voyeurism and sentenced last September.
“I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I did. It was a mistake and I wouldn’t do it again,” Killick told Teesside Live. “She alleged rape, but I believe it was consensual at the time and I still believe that.”
The candidate, who said he had only moved from London to Hartlepool a few weeks ago, added: “The question is now, whether I’ll be tolerated.”
The by-election was sparked by the resignation of Labour MP Mike Hill ahead of an employment tribunal over allegations of sexual harassment.
Recent polling shows Labour is on course to lose the seat to the Conservatives for the first time in over half a century.