A police manhunt intensified today as the London-wide search for Brian Paddick entered its 21st week. Mr Paddick, a former Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police, was selected as Liberal Democrat candidate to be the capital’s Mayor, but has not been seen or heard of since.
Police are searching through thousands of hours of footage from TV news, focusing particularly on candidates’ debates and Lib Dem press conferences, but as yet have uncovered no trace of Paddick.
A concert is due to be held in Hyde Park this weekend in support of the search effort. It will be fronted by U2, and feature appeals by the Green Party’s Siân Berry, English Democrat Matt O’Connor and independent candidate Winston McKenzie. Organisers will distribute orange wristbands to raise awareness of Paddick’s case.
Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University said: “As you’d have expected, a candidate with solid liberal credentials as well as such a strong law-and-order background was bound to be runaway favourite against an unreconstructed Tory buffoon and an unpleasant Labour opportunist.” So it has proved, with Paddick’s poll ratings surging into double figures – although some speculate that part of this may be a sympathy vote arising from his disappearance.
Releasing a new likeness of the missing candidate, Chief Inspector Rolf Alipo said: “As you can see, Mr Paddick has a number of highly distinctive policy positions. We urgently need to hear from anyone who may have seen him, heard of him, or considered voting for him.” He added: “I’d also like to make a personal appeal to members of the media fraternity. I respect the code of honour that keeps you from revealing your sources, but if you at any time have interviewed Mr Paddick, or covered any of his photo-opportunities, you may have vital information. You can call me personally and in the utmost confidence.”
At a police press conference, tearful Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, flanked by Simon Hughes and the other one, said: “Please – somebody in London must have noticed Brian. He loves people, he’s hard-working and full of bright ideas – the best campaigner our party’s had since Menzies Campbell. I just hope that nothing’s happened to him – nothing usually happens to Liberal Democrats, and I’m not sure how we’d all deal with it if something has.
“Brian, if you’re listening, please get in touch. Make contact with the voters. Let London know you’re OK.”
An unidentified voice from the back tastelessly blurted out: “But I’m over here – I’ve got a new leaflet on affordable housing,” before being ushered outside by constables.