Former Tory candidate pleads guilty to harassing opponents

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A former parliamentary candidate for the Conservative party has pleaded guilty to criminal damage and harassment at St Alban’s Magistrates Court.

Ian Oakley of Ryeland Close in West Drayton, London, resigned as candidate for Watford last month when he was arrested on suspicion of targeting Lib Dem opponents.

He has been expelled from the Tory party but remains a Hillingdon councilor, sitting as an independent.

Watford is a key ‘three-way’ marginal.

Labour MP Claire Ward has held Watford since 1997.

At the last election she won 16,575 votes (33.6%), a majority of 1,148.

Lib Dem candidate Sal Brinton polled 15,427 (31.2%) and the Tory candidate won 14,634 (29.6%).

Today Oakley admitted sending lesbian magazines to the home of Sal Brinton and making silent phone calls to her over a period of 19 months.

He also sent mail to her workplace addressed to ‘Sal Bitchton.’

Oakley, 31, could face jail for his campaign of harassment. The Conservative party has so far declined to comment on the case.

He will be sentenced next month.

Chair of magistrates Barry Northrop said:

“You have pleaded guilty to a large number of very serious offences, particularly taking into account the 68 offences which you have placed before us.

“Both the harassment and the criminal damage offences were targeted very often to homes of the individuals involved and were vindictive in nature.

“We do have to say that we regard the charges and the offences against you as to be very, very serious indeed – so serious that custody would be an option.”

Oakley also targeted the home of Lib Dem Russell Wilson with graffiti calling him a pervert and slashed car tyres and damaged the shutters of the Lib Dem headquarters in Watford.

A party spokesperson in the constituency said there had been more than 100 incidents of vandalism of their property and that of supporters, as well as smear campaigns.

Ms Brinton said: “I am relieved that Ian Oakley has pleaded guilty and that the nightmare of the last three years may finally be coming to an end.

“This has been a traumatic period for all those who have suffered from his vile campaign to defame, intimidate and terrorise people, simply for expressing support for a political party.”