A POLICE, fire and crime commissioner who has been urged by a watchdog to address her behaviour has been accused of asking a member of her staff to expunge her links on Facebook to the former leader of a kidnapping gang.

North Yorkshire commissioner Julia Mulligan is awaiting the findings of an inquiry by the county’s Police, Fire and Crime Panel following complaints by ex-staff members, including that she instructed a staff member to remove details from her personal Facebook page.

It has been alleged that Mrs Mulligan issued the instruction after it emerged one of her active supporters – as she stood as Conservative candidate for Leeds North West in the 2010 general election – had been jailed for seven years in 2005.

Mujeeb ur Rehman Bhutto, of Leeds, admitted being behind a high-profile kidnapping in Karachi in 2004 and taking a £56,000 ransom payment in Manchester.

The allegation that Mrs Mulligan tried to distance herself from Bhutto has been regarded as significant in the context of the Nolan principles of public life, which were established in 1995 to improve standards of behaviour.

The principles state holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner and that information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for doing so.

Mrs Mulligan has previously responded to questions over receiving help from Mr Bhutto, stating he “was one of over 300 people who volunteered to assist me during my general election campaign in Leeds in 2010”.

Last night, Mrs Mulligan’s office did not respond to requests for a comment, but it has previously said it did not wish to comment while the panel’s inquiry continued.

Mrs Mulligan’s supporters say the allegations are part of a drive by political rivals to discredit her.

It is understood other allegations being examined by the inquiry are similar to those considered by the panel last year, when the panel urged her to address “an endemic issue around the perception of bullying” in her office.

In October, Mrs Mulligan said the outcome of the complaints was “disappointing” and she took her duty of care to staff “extremely seriously”.

Mrs Mulligan has championed the rights of victims since being first being elected commissioner for the largest single county force in England in 2012. In 2016 she was re-elected taking 40.1 per cent of the first preference votes, but secured re-election on second preference votes.