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Ann Barnes called to meeting with Kent and Medway Crime Panel over 'car crash' Channel 4 documentary Meet the Commissioner

By Paul Francis

Kent crime commissioner Ann Barnes has been called before a watchdog committee to explain her decision to take part in a TV documentary branded a "car crash".

Meet the Commissioner, which aired on Channel 4 last Thursday, led to Mrs Barnes being ridiculed and accused of damaging the reputation of Kent Police.

The Kent and Medway Crime Panel now wants to quiz Mrs Barnes over her decision to take part in the show.

Kent police and crime commissioner Ann Barnes eventually spells her job title correctly. Picture: Channel 4

Scenes in the documentary showed Mrs Barnes struggling to explain what her £85,000 a year job was.

She was also criticised for allowing herself to be filmed painting her nails at her desk and bringing her dogs into work.

Just hours after the documentary was broadcast a light aircraft was hired to fly over police headquarters, with a banner calling for her to resign.

A KentOnline poll asking if she should quit saw 88% (1,397) people voting yes, with just 49 people (3%) saying no.

Mrs Barnes is likely to face some hostile questioning over her decision to appear in the documentary when she appears before the panel on Thursday.

Kent police and crime commissioner Ann Barnes when she appeared in a TV documentary. Picture: Channel 4/Richard Ansett

The cross-party committee is mostly made up of councillors, with additional lay representatives, and has the statutory role to hold the commissioner to account.

It is chaired by the Conservative county councillor Mike Hill.

The special meeting was arranged specifically to discuss the film.

After the broadcast, the ex-teacher defended her decision to appear on the show, claiming it hadn't damaged the force's reputation.

In a lengthy statement posted on her website, Ann Barnes said she was disappointed and frustrated by elements of the programme, but didn't indicate any regret that she took part.

An image on the Kent Police Federation Facebook page mocking Ann Barnes's explanation of "the onion" theory

She also rebuts the charge that the programme has damaged the force's reputation, saying it was never her intention to draw adverse publicity to the excellent work being carried out by officers.

She said: "The only reason I agreed to do the documentary was to help people to better understand the job of a Police and Crime Commissioner."

But few were complimentary about how she had come across in the programme.

The aircraft banner saying 'Ann Barnes out - resign'

Many compared her to David Brent, the buffoon in Ricky Gervais's The Office mockumentary.

Even the chairman of the Kent Police Federation Ian Pointon struggled to find good points in the show, describing it as "something of a disaster", "an horrendous hour of television" and potentially damaging to the force's reputation.

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