Offensive and misleading

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Terry Palmer’s letter (The Star, Jobs for the Girls, November 15, 2016) is as offensive as it is misleading.

Let me assure him that I am taking action in relation to the statements in the newspaper article to which he alludes.

I have always followed the highest ethical standards in my public life and in my work.

I have a long track record of promoting high ethical standards and being intolerant of those who fail to abide by them.

I am insistent upon the declaration of interests and I take great care to avoid any potential conflict of interests.

I will address the three themes of Mr Palmer’s letter.

n My relationship with Dr Billings:

I have known Alan Billings for more than 40 years.

I have the highest regard for his values, high standards, intellect, skills and judgement.

When it was determined that there was going to be a Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire in 2012, I publicly supported his possible candidature.

(For the record, I also said then that Shaun Wright was unfit to be the candidate and that Med Hughes should be disqualified from candidature.)

I have never worked for Dr Billings.

I was proud and pleased to be his (unpaid) agent, to ensure compliance with electoral law, for the 2016 election.

He stood head and shoulders, in every respect, above the other candidates.

I have never ever had a discussion nor any correspondence with Dr Billings about establishing the post of Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner nor about any arrangements for making any appointment nor about any potential candidates.

That remains the case today.

n Financial reward:

Neither money nor career (in work or politics) nor wealth acquisition have been drivers for me over more than 45 years.

By way of example, I have just returned from three weeks on a project in Eastern Europe for expenses only, when I could have undertaken well-paid work instead.

We live in the small, terrace inner-city house I bought more than 40 years ago.

My wife, Sioned-Mair Richards, spent more than 30 years in full-time employment before she considered standing for election to Sheffield City Council.

We agreed that she could become a council candidate in 2012, but only if she stopped working full-time.

The agreement was that she would continue in half-time employment and substitute being a councillor for the other half.

After the receipt of all allowances as a councillor, this would and did result in a reduction in both income and pension contributions of several thousand pounds each year.

As a result of becoming the Assistant Commissioner, she resigned from her other employment.

She will now earn less annually as Assistant Commissioner than she has from employment in any year of the last decade.

n Jo bs for the girls:

The post of Assistant Commissioner was publicly advertised.

It is not a political post. It is a politically-restricted post.

Sioned applied and was short-listed, interviewed and assessed.

I am told that she was the unanimous choice of the panel which interviewed her. I am not surprised, as she is extremely capable, with a tremendous breadth of experience.

Howard A Knight

Lyons Street, Sheffield, S4