Details of mayor's past 'not leaked by police'

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POLICE yesterday strongly denied being the source of the revelation that Liverpool's next Lord Mayor is a former prostitute.

The lawyer acting for Petrona Lashley, the Deputy Lord Mayor, said he was investigating where the disclosure came from and emphasised that she was more determined than ever to carry on her public duties.

The 53-year-old mother-of- three, a Labour councillor for Granby ward in Toxteth, was reported as having three convictions dating back to 1973 for common prostitution, and also for obtaining property by deception.

The most recent deception conviction was said to be in 1990 - just a year before she was elected as a councillor.

In the wake of the revelations in the Liverpool Echo, there was speculation that police provided the information about Ms Lashley, an equality officer at Oxford Street maternity hospital.

A Merseyside Police spokeswoman said yesterday the force was 'concerned' at the release of personal information.

'This force has carried out checks on its records and systems and can state that there has been no unauthorised release of criminal records in this case,' she said.

'Over recent weeks, inquiries made to Merseyside Police for verification have been consistently refused.

'It must be stressed that many agencies have background information and personal details on individuals. Such information is not the exclusive property of the police.

'From the time of conviction such details enter the public domain, including the media.'

It is understood that checks have been run on the police national computer, which logs all requests for access to criminal records. These revealed no searches for Ms Lashley's record. The councillor's solicitor, Philip Canter, said: 'I accept what the police say, but I am still concerned about where this information has come from.'

He added: 'I suspect that someone has had some access to some information which they should not have. I am not sure that all the information published is correct - it does not appear to my client to be all correct, anyway. If it isn't all correct that would also point to the police not being the source.'

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