Jill Mortimer, a barrister, land owner and North Yorkshire councillor standing for the Conservatives at the Hartlepool by-election spent time living in the Cayman Islands before deciding to stand for Hartlepool. Why should this be an issue?
Jill Mortimer, admitted that she has not “spent a lot of time” in the town of Hartlepool but according to Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, the Conservatives had selected a candidate who has “more connection with “tax havens” than Hartlepool town centre.”
In a letter to Conservative co-chairman Amanda Milling, Ms Rayner called on Mortimer to publish a full account of the candidate’s time in Cayman.
She said: “I am sure I do not need to remind you that businesses that set up in places like the Cayman Islands tend to have a very specific motivation for doing so: namely, to avoid paying their fair share of taxes that contribute to running the public services we all rely on in this country. This kind of thinking is a million miles away from how most people live their lives.”
But while Mortimer had not lived in the area for a great deal of time, it turns out that she had lived in Cayman many years ago and she moved to Cayman with her children due to the job of her ex-husband, “a highly experienced and respected regulator of financial services and a qualified barrister.”
Mr Mortimer was in fact the Head of Banking Supervision at the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority.
The reply said that Mortimer’s ex-husband was “a leading authority on financial regulation and has worked and published widely on counter-fraud, anti-corruption, anti-terrorist financing and many other matters”.
She continued: “As such, not least due to her ex-husband’s role, Jill’s family was scrupulous at all times in its financial affairs. We are happy to confirm that Jill Mortimer and her husband did not gain any tax advantage from living in the Cayman Islands, nor did she advise any others on this.
“We can also confirm that Jill Mortimer has no financial connection to the Cayman Islands. She has no financial interests such as bank accounts or any other assets and neither does her ex-husband.
“We are immensely proud that Jill Mortimer is our candidate for Hartlepool. Neither we, not Jill, will apologise for a woman supporting her family by following her now ex-husbands to various countries due to his important line of work in tackling corruption, money laundering and ensuring robust financial regulation.
“Your desperate attack has completely collapsed. Your misrepresentation of this period in Jill’s life is factually wrong and entirely disingenuous. You surely do not oppose the work that Jill’s family were doing during this period? And are you suggesting that a woman should be judged in any way on the work of her ex-husband?”
There’s no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of Mrs Mortimer or her family.
The 2021 Hartlepool by-election is a by-election to be held in the UK parliamentary constituency of Hartlepool following the resignation of the sitting Member of Parliament (MP), Mike Hill. It will be held on 6 May 2021 alongside elections to the Borough Council, Tees Valley Mayor, and Cleveland Police and Crimes Commissioner.
The seat has been described as part of the “red wall”, a set of constituencies that historically supported the Labour Party but where the party is being challenged by increasing Conservative support.