Former Peterborough Labour party agent jailed for grooming teenage boy

Andrew Palmer
Andrew Palmer
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A former Labour party agent in Peterborough has been jailed for four years after he sexually groomed a teenage boy.

Andrew Palmer (53) showed no emotion as he was locked up at Huntingdon Crown Court on Friday.

The court was told he had pleaded guilty to sexually touching the teenage boy once, and asking for naked photos of the lad in exchange for money.

Palmer was jailed for 20 months in February at Peterborough Crown Court after twice breaching a sexual offences prevention order and a community order. He had twice spent time behind bars for possessing indecent images of children, and first committed sexual offences in 1979.

At Friday’s hearing, the court was told Palmer had touched the boy earlier this year.

The boy had then asked to borrow money from Palmer, and he had asked for indecent pictures.

Gemma Stokes, prosecuting, said phone records showed Palmer had contacted the boy dozens of times in a one week period.

She said: “The offending has caused harm to the victim. The was a significant degree of planning. There was grooming.
“The prosecution say he is a significant risk to children.”

Julian Norman, defending, said: “He appreciates there is nothing much that can be said on his behalf.

“He has agreed to take part in the sex offenders treatment programme while in prison.”

Judge Peter Murphy, sentencing, said ‘On any view this is a serious matter.’

He added: “You have a number of sexual offences recorded against you.

“From 2007 onwards a disturbing pattern emerges of you possessing or making images of being in breach of a sexual offences prevention order.”

Palmer, of no fixed abode, had pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a child and one count of breaching a sexual offences prevention order at a previous hearing. He was given a two year sentence for each count, to be served consecutively. He was also ordered to pay a £120 victim surcharge.

Palmer was agent for former member of the Peterborough Labour Party Nicola Day-Dempsey at the 2014 local elections. In a number of emails sent by Palmer - and seen by the Peterborough Telegraph earlier this year, when he was jailed for different sexual offences - show that he regularly signed himself as the campaign coordinator for Lisa Forbes. The emails also indicate that Palmer had a number of important posts within the Peterborough

Labour Party. He signed himself as the Peterborough CLP assistant secretary and the South and East Labour Party branch secretary and the East and Dogsthorpe Labour Team Member.

He was expelled from the Labour party earlier this year.

Following his sentence in February, the East of England Labour Party said they were not aware of Palmer’s criminal history when he was working for them.

Cllr Forbes said she and other members of the party felt ‘betrayed’ by Palmer.

She said: “We were all as disgusted and shocked as everyone else when we heard about his actions.

“We are pleased the full weight of the law has been used against him. Hopefully this can act as a deterrent.

“We were unaware of Palmer’s past. When you have an organisation as big as the Labour party - or any major political party - it is impossible to check on every single person.

“I felt let down by him. We all felt betrayed by him.

“A lot of people were taken in by him. He was very clever, gaining people’s trust.”