Labour stands by candidate after string of offensive comments
Labour is standing by its candidate in next week’s county council by-election in Soham after it emerged he had posted a series of offensive online comments.
In a string of Facebook posts, Lee Jinks, 39, who is fighting to win Soham North and Isleham for the party on Thursday, joked about child abuse and rape. They also included a comment about the Hillsborough tragedy, which left 96 people dead and hundreds more injured.
The Facebook posts dated from 2014, while further comments on Twitter were made in 2016.
Labour’s by-election organiser Mark Hucker said the local party knew about the posts at the selection stage but chose Mr Jinks above other candidates because interviewers considered him a ‘changed man’.
“He was very open about it and we had to think long and hard whether he was a different person,” said Mr Hucker.
“We had a long discussion with Lee about the issues he had. He is a completely reformed character who now wants to make amends.
“He clearly thought they were humorous.
“I don’t find it funny. I don’t agree with what was said on there, but he is a genuine person.”
He said Mr Jinks had been going through a ‘difficult time in his life’ and that ‘everybody changes’.
“We all have parts in our lives where things are not going right for us. He had those problems. He’s completely over those now,” added Mr Hucker.
“He has lived in Soham all his life. He knows what issues it’s got and he is the person who wants to make a difference. He’s a working man who goes down the pubs in Soham and knows what issues people have.”
The Journal tried to contact Mr Jinks but he did not respond.
When the Journal attended one of his canvassing events he was expected at, he was unavailable because of work.
Conservative candidate Mark Goldsack said each party had a ‘duty to vet and clear’ candidates it was asking people to elect.
Independent candidate Geoffrey Woollard did not wish to comment.
Liberal Democrat Victoria Charlesworth was approached for comment about Mr Jinks’ posts but did not respond by the time the Journal went to press.
The by-election was triggered after former Conservative Cambridgeshire County Councillor Paul Raynes resigned his seat after taking a £100,000 job at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.
Polling stations across Soham North and Isleham are open on Thursday from 7am-10pm.