A 28-year-old gay man is on the run after fleecing a naive police commissioner candidate out of an estimated £100,000.
Mervyn Barrett withdrew from a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election contest in Lincolnshire last week after the resignation of his campaign manager Matthew Brown.
According to the Sunday Times, Brown is a serial fraudster who targeted Mr Barrett by creating an elaborate fictional double life.
Brown initially persuaded Mr Barrett to run as an independent PCC candidate on the basis that his rich aristocratic mother would fund his campaign.
However, Mr Barrett has now discovered that the person Brown claimed as his mother was actually his dead ex-wife and that his career as a political lobbyist was based on fictional websites and misleading social media accounts.
Mr Barrett previously worked for crime prevention charity Nacro for more than 30 years and was made an OBE in 1999 for services to crime reduction.
After he agreed to stand as a PCC candidate, he was taken on a “wild” night out by Brown, with the pair ending up at a central London gay bar.
Mr Barrett claims an estimated £84,000 in unauthorised payments has been made by Brown in the past two years and he now has over £16,000 in bills.
In 2005, Brown married a wealthy businesswoman in her fifties.
He was appointed co-director of Renate de Ungerbloeck’s company, but by 2008 it was declared bankrupted.
The couple separated soon afterwards.
Brown’s wife died in 2010 – yet he continued to trade on her name, telling people that she was still alive and was either his mother or his secretary.
Mr Barrett said receiving a letter of support from Brown’s fictional mother, who had asked him to become a trustee of her family’s charitable foundation, was the moment he decided to run for office.
Brown had previously been convicted of more than 220 fraud offences in 2004.
With hindsight Mr Barrett realises it was a terrible error of judgement to employ him as his campaign manager: “[Brown] told me he’d only been in prison for corporate tax evasion, but as the charity helped rehabilitate offenders it seemed right to give him a change”.
The two met each other after Brown applied to work at Mr Barrett’s charity as a volunteer.
It is believed Brown is now in New York.