A WOMAN has started a petition to change laws to prevent sex offenders being able to stand for public office, after a candidate in the May 6 by-election admitted he has a conviction for voyeurism.

Christopher Killick, an independent candidate on the ballot for the Hartlepool Parliamentary by-election, admitted he is a registered sex offender after being convicted in London for voyeurism last year.

Sarah Gate, a digital marketing strategist, who was born and still lives in Hartlepool, has now set up an online petition looking to change laws to stop sex offenders being able to be public office candidates, such as to become MP.

She said people in the town are “really quite angry” over Mr Killick’s decision to stand in Hartlepool and are shocked laws don’t already prevent people on the sex offenders register being on the ballot.

The 33-year-old said: “Most people can’t believe that it’s not the law already.

“If you are a sex offender you can’t be a teacher or a doctor, so why can you be an MP, a representative of the people, it just doesn't make sense.

“It would be great for this change to have come from a group of activists from Hartlepool, I think, and bring something positive from this man trying to become an MP.”

She noted how currently people who are subject to bankruptcy restrictions in England and Wales are not allowed to stand, but people on the sex offenders register are.

She said: “To me, this system is more about how you treat money than how you treat other people.”

She has been joined by other campaigners in Hartlepool in support of her petition, and they are planning a “small demonstration” in the town over the weekend, distributing literature on the issue.

Ms Gate added Mr Killick has got the people of Hartlepool “all wrong” if he thought they would accept his actions and he has a “barefaced cheek” to be running for the position.

She said: “To come here and to think for some reason the people of this town would be accepting of that, it’s just an insult really.

“I don’t know why he thought he’d get away with that here because he’s got the people of Hartlepool all wrong if he thinks we’re the type that will accept that, because we’re not.

“This is a very strong unified town when it comes to stuff like that, and obviously the people have reacted to it in exactly the way you would expect them to, they’re angry,  they’re really angry.”

In response to the comments and petition being set up, Mr Killick, 41, who now lives in Hartlepool, said he wants to enter politics to help people and discuss his ideas.

He said: “More generally, and put simply, offenders should be allowed to aspire to high things because that is rehabilitation.

“I am entering politics to help people.

“I hope people will want me to live here. I didn’t get involved in this election only to win this election because that would be extremely unlikely. I want people to talk about my ideas.”

The petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/uk-government-change-the-law-to-stop-sex-offenders-becoming-public-office-candidates-e-g-mps and at the time of writing had around 1,000 signatures.