Philip Allott: What did he say, what did he mean, and why hasn't he resigned?

In order to understand quite why so many people have called for North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner to step down from his £74,000-a-year public office, you have to examine more than what Philip Allott said in his interview to BBC Radio York.

You have to contemplate *why* he said what he said, and draw conclusions as to what that tells us about the man.

But before we do that, we should pause for a moment to remember Sarah Everard. A happy, conscientious, thoughtful woman who was just walking home when she was stopped. Stopped by a police officer, seemingly in the line of duty. Apprehended. Handcuffed. Abducted. Raped. Strangled to death. The remains of her body burned and hidden - by a police officer.

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A serving police officer - Wayne Couzens. Someone Sarah would have instinctively trusted. Someone any of us would have instinctively trusted.

Philip Allott

So what did Mr Allott say to BBC Radio York?

Mr Allott told BBC Radio York listeners - Sarah’s home town - she should, in fact, not have trusted the police officer who stopped her, citing covid-19 legislation that was introduced amid the global pandemic - to help save lives.

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He said that women ought to be more ‘streetwise’ when it comes to their (note, their - women!) encounters with police, adding that Sarah should never have submitted to Couzens.

Sarah Everard

What did he mean by those words?

By his words, it is evident that - instinctively - Mr Allott believed Sarah Everard was to blame for what happened to her. To question Sarah’s ability to sense danger. Her intellect, even.

But he wasn’t just taking aim at Sarah. He went on in his interview to state that: ‘perhaps women need to learn a bit more about the legal process.’ Just women, incidentally.

So, what did he mean? In the context of those words it is reasonable to deduce that what Mr Allott believed - and perhaps believes - is that women are to blame for any harm they may come to at the hands of men. Police officer or otherwise.

But he has said sorry. Isn’t that enough?

The Yorkshire Post cannot put this better than did Nazir Afzal, former chief executive of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and once Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West of England. He said that what Mr Allott said revealed much about the man.

He told The Yorkshire Post that in saying what he said, Mr Allott had been seen. He added: “What he said goes beyond requiring an apology. He apologised because of how his words were received, but what it shows us is who he is, and you cannot apologise for who you are.”

So what next?

Just this evening, new allegations of sexism and misogyny have emerged after The Yorkshire Post saw details of a leaked document in which the overwhelming majority of Mr Allott’s team told him they were ashamed of him, and could no longer work for him. Mr Allott refutes all of those allegations.

The Yorkshire Post’s Political Editor, Chris Burn called him. He made no attempt to address the allegations of sexism and misogyny nor express any concern that people felt that way. Instead he said he felt the letter had been cynically timed to denigrate his reputation, undermine his position and reduce his credibility ahead of a crunch meeting where he will be expected to explain himself - tomorrow.

In other words, his reaction was: me, me, me.

The Yorkshire Post says:

Mr Allott, by your actions, your denial and your pig-headed arrogance we can see that you care not a jot for what you are putting Sarah Everard’s family and friends through, even now.

It is clear that you have no respect for MPs like former cabinet member Julian Smith, who has asked you to step down.

We can see you believe you are above the elected councillors around you, many of whom have ‘queued up to tell you to go.’

We can see that you cannot comprehend that good, honest, hard-working, over-stretched and understaffed police officers putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the public are having their relationship with the communities they work with undermined by your tin-eared selfishness.

We see it all, Mr Allott. But, critically: we have seen who you are.

Your staff cannot work for you. The rank and file cannot work with you. The public have lost faith in you.

For Sarah, and the millions of women and girls who you further imperilled by your words and your beliefs.

Do the right thing.