Apology over Home Secretary’s ‘cancelled’ visit to Peterborough

The Home Secretary visited Peterborough this morning, less than two hours after invited media were told the visit had been cancelled.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 3:03 pm

Journalists from publications including the Peterborough Telegraph were invited to interview Priti Patel in Cathedral Square where she was due to campaign alongside police and crime commissioner candidate Darryl Preston.

However, 90 minutes before the scheduled interviews the PT received an email from a spokesperson for the Conservative candidate stating: “Please accept our huge apologies but we have just been informed that this visit has been cancelled.”

The email came several hours after the PT had been informed from a Conservative Party member that the Home Secretary would not be available for interview.

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Despite this, Ms Patel was photographed in Central Park this morning alongside Mr Preston, Conservative metro mayor candidate James Palmer, MP for Peterborough Paul Bristow, deputy leader of Peterborough City Council Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, and the party’s candidate for Park ward in next week’s local elections, John Peach.

The decision to cancel the interviews was made just hours after a Conservative candidate for the local elections, Ishfaq Hussain, apologised for Facebook posts which he acknowledged “echoed antisemitic tropes in ways I had not fully understood”.

The Tories have failed to respond to repeated requests for comment on this by the PT.

Mr Preston’s spokesperson said after the visit: “We sent an email early this morning saying that the minister’s visit was cancelled. This was an error.

Priti Patel at Central Park with Paul Bristow, Darryl Preston, John Peach and James Palmer

“The minister’s plans had changed and she was no longer available for interviews in Cathedral Square.

“We apologise for this and any confusion it may have caused.”

The Peterborough Conservative Association sent out a press release following the visit with the following quotes:

. Mr Preston: “The Home Secretary came to Peterborough this morning to hear about my plans to cut crime in the city and put more police on the streets.

“With Park ward Conservative candidate John Peach, James Palmer, and local MP Paul Bristow, we showed Priti Central Park and briefed her on problems of anti-social behaviour and drug dealing.

“It’s these sorts of crimes I am determined to see action on. I am thrilled to have her support.”

. Mr Peach: “Everyone knows there are issues around anti-social behaviour and drug dealing at night in the park. We need action. To have the Home Secretary here to hear about the problem first hand is a real boost for my campaign for a greater police presence.”

. Mr Bristow: “Peterborough is full of potential and opportunity. But things like crime could hold us back.

“We already have more police in Peterborough and we are making progress on anti-social behaviour. We need to do more.

“The Home Secretary and Darryl Preston share my vision for zero tolerance, and even more police. Peterborough can win the war against crime.”