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Public office: Falklands veteran wants legal reform on youth offences

Simon Weston, the Falklands war veteran made famous after suffering severe burns to his face and body, has spoken out against laws that prevent anyone from standing for public office if they have any blemishes on their criminal record, even if their misdemeanors were committed in childhood.

Mr Weston withdrew from the elections for the new police commissioners in November last year, after he acknowledged that he had a criminal record for an incident that took place when he was fourteen, when he was arrested and charged with travelling in a stolen vehicle.

Since then Mr Weston served with distinction in the Falklands War and after suffering severe burns set about making a remarkable and inspiring recovery to become a renowned public speaker and charity worker.

He believes that mistakes in childhood acknowledged, punished and long forgotten, should not bar individuals from running for public office.

It transpired that Mr Weston would not have been barred from standing for police commissioner, as his offence was not one that could have carried a custodial sentence, the threshold set by the Home Office to prevent someone from running for a public post.

However, Mr Weston was aware that several other candidates were forced to withdraw and believes that the Government should clarify the situation for future elections.

"I've worked with young people in this country who have committed crimes, but after six months they've never committed another crime and my fear for them is that it could come back to haunt them in later life and stop them achieving their goals," he said.

"Let's have a real clear set of boundaries put in place and told to youngsters at school so that they understand," he added.

Source:

Simon Weston: Minor offences in youth should not bar people form public office (BBC News)