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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 March, 2005, 13:01 GMT
MP cautioned for criminal damage
Parked cars
The incident centred on a parking space
A government minister has been arrested and accepted a police caution for criminal damage following a row with neighbours over parking.

Chris Pond, 52, a minister at the Department of Work and Pensions, was detained and later bailed in early February following the incident.

The Mail on Sunday said the incident stemmed from a row about parking in a mews street in Hackney, east London.

The MP told the paper he accepted the caution to end the "nightmare".

The incident involved the Ashton family, who live nearby.

According to the Ashtons, the incident came after the minister had asked to park his car in the street for one Sunday because his wife was heavily pregnant and he wanted to ensure he could to leave for hospital quickly if necessary.

Mrs Ashton rang Mr Pond, who is the MP for Gravesham, in Kent, asking him to remove the car when it was still there on the following Thursday.

I have to accept I made a mistake - if leaving traces of glue on the door constitutes criminal damage I have to take responsibility for it
Chris Pond MP

That day Chris Brown, husband of the local residents' association secretary, put a no parking sign on a nearby wall.

Mrs Ashton, 31, a personnel manager, said that Mr Pond, apparently believing that she or her husband had put up the sign, later banged on her door, shouting loudly.

She told the newspaper: "I was frightened. I was with the baby on my knee and I was panicked and shaking."

And it seems that an attempt had been made to stick the no parking sign on the Ashtons' front door with adhesive, prompting the couple to call the police.

The MP told the Mail on Sunday that he had removed the parking notice from the wall and put it on the Ashtons' door, although it fell off almost immediately.

However, he denied banging on the couple's door.

Chris Pond MP
Mr Pond described the affair as a 'storm in a teacup'

Mr Pond, who said he decided to accept the police caution in order to avoid causing distress to his own family, told the newspaper: "I decided to bring the nightmare to an end by accepting a police caution.

"In doing that I have to accept I made a mistake. If leaving traces of glue on the door constitutes criminal damage I have to take responsibility for it."

He also described the whole affair as a "storm in a teacup".

Mr Pond's immediate superior, Work and Pensions Secretary Alan Johnson, told BBC News: "My actual reading of it is that it has been blown out of all proportions, but that is a matter for Chris - it is something that happened in his personal life."

Chris Pond
17 Oct 02 |  Politics

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