A prospective Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) whose campaign was apparently bankrolled by a right-wing US think-tank has pulled out of the race, claiming he is now tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket after the expected money failed to arrive.
Mervyn Barrett stood down after claims that an organisation calling itself the Fund for the New American Century, apparently based in Washington and London, had spent up to £50,000 on his campaign to be the new crime chief in Lincolnshire.
But yesterday Mr Barrett said he had found himself in a "bizarre and hugely embarrassing" situation, and turned his fire on his former "right hand" man, Matthew de Unger Brown.
Mr Barrett, who was appointed OBE for his work with the crime reduction charity Nacro, alleged that promised tracking polls and leaflets for a door-to-door delivery which he thought Mr de Unger Brown had arranged and paid for had never materialised.
Opponents in the race had become increasingly bemused at the independent's lavish campaign, which included a £30,000 promotional video, a chauffeur-driven Mercedes and a professional team. But Mr Barrett said he now believed there had been no funding other than money he himself had provided.
"Matthew had a towering personality and demonstrated a considerable talent for everything he undertook, and I am afraid I was swept away by it all," he said. "I believed in him and regarded him as an ally and friend. I feel very foolish when I have a track record of sound professional judgement, but I have to accept the reality."
Mr Barrett had previously backed a controversial outsourcing deal between G4S and Lincolnshire Police and Mr de Unger Brown implied that the Fund he ran, which has a temporary website, was keen to explore further options for reform.
He said Mr Barrett was one of a number of candidates he had held discussions with before the election.
Mr de Unger Brown's mobile phone was no longer working yesterday and it is believed he had flown to the United States. When contacted by email about Mr Barrett's allegations, he replied: "I will not be making any comment at this stage."
Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, will give an implied rebuke today to Lord Blair, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who urged people not to vote in the elections for the new £100,000-a-year posts.
As he launches Labour's campaign in Preston he will pledge that, even if the turnout is poor, as expected, Labour will try to build consent and legitimacy for PCCs despite originally opposing the £100m government flagship policy, which is supposed to bring the police under democratic control.
A ComRes poll showed that seven out of 10 voters believe the Coalition should increase its funding of frontline police jobs, while 65 per cent said they felt less safe as a result of the loss of 6,800 officers.