FOLLOWING the announcement that Paul Williams will be the Labour candidate for the Hartlepool by-election, it has been confirmed he will not be standing for Cleveland's next Police and Crime Commissioner.

Dr Paul Williams, formerly the MP for Stockton South from 2017 until 2019, has been chosen to contest the seat after incumbent Mike Hill resigned this week amid sexual harassment allegations.

Mr Hill’s sudden departure sets up a fresh electoral contest in Hartlepool, a seat long-held by Labour, marking the first test of Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership in the so-called “red wall” of the party’s heartlands since taking over from Jeremy Corbyn last year.

A spokesman for Labour North confirmed that Dr Williams would not be standing in the election to become Cleveland’s next Police and Crime Commissioner.

A replacement candidate is yet to be announced.

He said: “There wasn’t a vacancy until last night so we are putting a process in place. There will be a new process to replace Paul.

“It won’t be a long process. We will have to be quick but we have got a few weeks.

"We have a vacancy now for PCC candidate and we will be looking to fill that vacancy."

However, a Conservative MP said Dr Williams was 'turning his back on the people of Teesside'.

Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar, said that Dr Williams' decision to stand in the by-election 'made a mockery of his previous claims to be committed to the role of Cleveland PCC'.

Dr Williams previously was elected as MP for Stockton South in 2017 but lost his seat in the 2019 General Election.

He was subsequently selected as Labour's pick as the party's candidate for PCC.

Mr Young said: "Paul Williams has spent weeks telling my constituents how much he cared about their problems - now he’s jumped ship to go and stand for Hartlepool MP.

"I’m sick and tired of broken promises from Labour politicians, promising to support us then only looking out for themselves.

“It’s just a slap in the face for Teessiders - and for my constituents who thought Paul was going to be different to what we’ve had before.

"Cleveland Police fell to being the worst rated force in the country under the watch of Labour's previous PCC, Barry Copinger, who resigned in the face of his shambolic leadership in 2019.

"You might think Labour would take this seriously.

"But following Coppinger's resignation, Labour announced Dr Paul as their candidate claiming he was committed to the role.

"Yet here we are, at the first point of asking, and Dr Paul has turned his back on Teesside leaving us with a second-choice Labour PCC candidate and Hartlepool with a failed former MP who has already been rejected by the people of the North East." 

The decision to step down from PCC candidate also attracted criticism from Saltburn Labour Councillor, Craig Hannaway, who last night said online: “I can’t defend this opportunism and lack of respect for voters.”

Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: “I would simply say this to the people of Hartlepool: don’t be fooled. This is the same man people in Stockton South had to endure between 2017-19, working day after day to stop Brexit and overturn their democratic choice.

“If it hadn’t been for Brexit there would be no Freeport. We would likely be trapped in the EU’s disastrous vaccine programme. We would still have free movement and be paying billions a year to Brussels.

“Alongside this, the way Paul Williams has ditched his campaign to be Police and Crime Commissioner at the last moment, in pursuit of what he believes is a better ticket, just speaks volumes about the sense of entitlement Labour have locally.”

The Northern Echo has contacted Dr Williams for comment.