News, Culture & Society

Tory in drunken row says conviction will APPEAL to voters 

A Tory running for election says his conviction for being drunk and disorderly shows he has ‘life experience’ and will appeal to voters because it is ‘reflective of society’.

Police officer Jonathan Dulston is standing as a candidate in a Darlington Council by-election on November 16 – less than four months after he was fined £120 by a district judge in County Durham.

The 28-year-old pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly and obstructing police during a pub disturbance in which he was caught on CCTV in a scuffle with five officers.

Serving police officer Jonathan Dulston thinks his conviction for being drunk and disorderly could appeal to voters

He said his conviction ‘represents reality’ and told the Mirror he’d been ‘very transparent’ by admitting his conviction to the panel that selected him to stand in the Red Hall and Lingfield ward following the resignation of a sitting Labour councillor.

‘It’s not ideal but I think actually what people are looking for more than ever now is people who represent reality, people who do make mistakes – not the polished politicians who often patronise and look down to people and stand on their high horses,’ he said.

‘People want someone who is going to be reflective of society, people who have made mistakes and people who have got life experiences.

‘Life experiences aren’t always positive, that’s the point.

‘Sometimes, bad experiences can in some respects make you a stronger person and give you a greater insight into people’s lives.

‘I’m not saying it makes me a stronger candidate – far from it, I’m not going to advocate getting a criminal conviction – but it’s opened my mind and allowed me to view things differently.

‘It’s been a huge learning experience in terms of the high standards people expect when you put yourself at the forefront of politics.’

Dulston reportedly caused a ‘nuisance’ outside Harvey’s Late Bar in Houndgate, Darlington, when bouncers asked him to leave at about 2.30am on April 29.

He refused to move away from the building and told door staff he was a police officer who had his warrant card, Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard. 

Dulston was then involved in a scuffle with five police officers called to the pub and was charged with assaulting one after grabbing arms in an incident caught on CCTV.

The candidate denied assaulting a police officer and the charge was later dropped.

Prosecutor Rebecca Laverick told the court better behaviour should be expected of a serving police officer.

‘Officers were trying to speak to him but he was shouting over them,’ she said. 

‘At one point he starts grabbing officers’ arms.

‘A member of the public even got involved saying he was showing his police ID card and that behaviour from a special constable is not acceptable.’

Tom Morgan, defending, highlighted Dulston’s two-year service as a special constable and his 11 years as a community volunteer.

‘The defendant does not accept he was brandishing his warrant card,’ he added.

‘He is a driven individual who will have obviously lost his previous good character.’ 

Dulston said he will have ‘conversations very openly with residents on the doorstep to say “this is what’s happened”‘ after he was ordered to pay £85 in costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

‘It’s not something I was proud of, it was a mistake but ultimately you can’t let mistakes in life define you as a person,’ he said.

‘We all do make mistakes and we don’t make the best choices sometimes.

‘But the population of Red Hall and Lingfield will see beyond that, they will see this is a person who has made a mistake but this is also a person who has made a huge contribution to his community.

‘That’s what I want to focus on. It’s a shame that it happened.’

Darlington Labour Party campaign coordinator Chris McEwan questioned the Tories’ selection. 

‘I’m very surprised that Darlington Tories thought this man was a fit and proper person to represent the people of Red Hall and Lingfield,’ he said.

‘His recent behaviour and court appearance was in the local newspaper, so they must have known about his dodgy past.

‘I can only think that like their MPs in Westminster, they’re completely out of touch with what matters to local people.’