Dispute over parking space gets minister a criminal record

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Indy Politics

An argument over a parking space and some blobs of glue on a neighbour's doorway have landed a government minister with a criminal record.

An argument over a parking space and some blobs of glue on a neighbour's doorway have landed a government minister with a criminal record.

Chris Pond, the Work and Pensions minister, must be wishing the little fracas outside the house next door had been televised from start to finish, like the famous punch that John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, landed during the last election campaign. He believes that if the whole story had been told in court, he would have been acquitted.

But with a new baby at home, and an election looming, in which he is defending a slender 4,862 majority in his Gravesham constituency, the MP decided to bring the dispute to a quick end by not contesting a charge of criminal damage, for which he has received a caution. That makes him in the only member of the government known to have a criminal record.

The dispute blew up on 6 January, when Mr Pond found a "no parking" sign hung on the wall in a communal courtyard behind his house in Dalston, east London. He had been using a free parking space while his wife was heavily pregnant, to ensure he could make a quick dash to hospital. Angered by the notice, Mr Pond took it down and stuck it on a neighbour's door. It fell, but the glue stayed, doing damage estimated at £120, which Mr Pond will have to pay.

According to theMail on Sunday, Mr Pond hammered on his neighbour's door before leaving the notice, and telephoned in a rage. But he picked the wrong neighbour. Someone else in the mews had objected to Mr Pond's parked car because it prevented others from using the space as a turning circle. The minister claims the incident has been "blown out of all proportion".

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