Mayoral candidate could be disqualified over criminal charges
BRISTOL mayoral candidate Craig Clarke stands to be disqualified from the election race – if he is convicted of drug possession and assault.
The 39-year-old, who is standing for the State Educated Party, is likely to be tried at Bristol Crown Court before the historic poll on November 15 to become the city's first elected leader.
He is alleged to have had 0.6g of cannabis on him when he was arrested during a protest on College Green on May 5.
Then, when he was in police custody, he is alleged to have assaulted a detention officer by pulling his tie.
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Mr Clarke, who refused to give an address in court, denies both charges. The Crown Prosecution Service had sent the court summons to his parents' address in Cheddar.
The maximum sentence for the assault is six months in prison and for the possession it is three months.
If he were to be convicted and jailed, the prison term he received could put his status as a mayoral candidate in jeopardy.
A city council spokesman said: "You can be disqualified if you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months or more, including a suspended sentence, without the option of a fine. This covers a period of five years prior to election."
In January, Mr Clarke became the first person to declare himself a prospective mayoral candidate.
He was arrested at a demonstration on May 5 on College Green to oppose a private company's involvement in the National Health Service.
On Friday, Mr Clarke represented himself at Bristol Magistrates' Court, having elected to stand trial at the crown court in front of a jury, instead of before magistrates.
He is due to attend a hearing at Bristol Crown Court on October 9.
November 15 will be the first time Bristol goes to the polls to vote for an elected mayor.