AN article was recently printed in the News Group papers following critical comments made by paid employee of the Conservative Party and senior local councillor Patrick Harley.

Cllr Harley had been trawling through my Facebook comments and found a comment I had left on a friend's page where the thread consequently evolved into very unpleasant banter regarding the late Jimmy Saville.

I consider this attack to be the lowest form of gutter politics and exactly the kind of thing that turns the general public off from bothering to vote in elections.

This attack and its implication that I take child abuse lightly is particularly hurtful as it is no secret that my wife has suffered a lifetime of mental and physical problems as a result of being abused from the age of eight until she was 15. Nobody is more acutely aware of the suffering and long-term damage this kind of behaviour causes than us. Indeed I have personally called for and campaigned for much tougher sentences for this kind of crime.

What is worse is that cllr Harley is aware of my wife`s background and the serious problems she has to deal with as a result. This was a personal attack of the most unpleasant nature. Since this article was printed, my wife has suffered great emotional distress and the return of dreadful nightmares and flashbacks to the awful incidents of her childhood. These are problems common to victims of abuse and the kind of thing that as a very happily married couple we have worked hard together to combat over the years.

Cllr Harley was trying to score political points in order to derail the momentum gathering behind my campaign to be the West Midlands first Police and Crime Commissioner. His efforts have spectacularly backfired and our campaign to bring common sense policing and more bobbies on the beat goes from strength to strength.

Child abuse is a loathsome crime and one that is far too serious for smal- time politicians to use to try to score points. I pledge to take forward the UKIP campaign for the PCC role and once in place, use every means at my disposal to crack down on this detestable and evil behaviour.

Bill Etheridge, UKIP PCC Candidate West Midlands