LABOUR has chosen its candidate for the Thames Valley Crime Commissioner, a former Lib Dem who didn’t turn up to his own launch event.

Barrister Tim Starkey was officially announced at an event in Oxford yesterday, attended by a number of high profile Labour MPs.

MPs Caroline Flint and Andrew Smith arrived at the Littlemore Community Centre to introduce their man to Oxford Labour Party members.

But Mr Starkey was nowhere to be seen. It emerged he was in London working as a barrister in a human trafficking case.

No mention was made of his general election campaign for the Liberal Democrats in 2010, when he stood as the candidate for Chesham & Amersham.

After the launch event, Mr Starkey told the Oxford Mail he had left the Lib Dems last year over what he described as a “gulf” between pre-election promises and coalition policies in government.

He said: “The first priority is going to be protecting the police and the criminal justice system, which I work in day in day out, which is under attack from this government.

“Stopping the programme of privatisation and restoring the number of police to 2010 levels are also priorities.”

When asked if his campaign to be elected would be damaged by his absence at the launch he said: “No.

“I work every day in the criminal justice system and I’m the middle of a very serious trial.”

He added: “I left last year as a result of the number of U-turns by the Liberal Democrats in Government.”

Mr Starkey was chosen after party members chose him over rival Jon Harvey in a postal vote.

Ms Flint insisted Mr Starkey was “100 per cent” committed to becoming Thames Valley PCC, despite his absence.

She said his work as a lawyer gave him an invaluable knowledge of the criminal justice system that would serve him well. She added: “Tim is in court, to be fair – I understand it is a human trafficking case.

“Tim has already been working with other candidates in the South East region.

“People will be seeing and hearing a lot from Tim in the months ahead.”

Pat Chambers from Cowley attended the meeting, but said she was still sceptical about the newly-created PCC role.

“I don’t think we need them, that’s my feeling,” she said.

When asked her opinion about the Mr Starkey’s victory she said: “I don’t know him at all.”

The Lib Dems said it had only just started the selection process for its own candidate and spokeswoman Vanessa McPake said she could not comment on how many candidates had come forward.

The timetable for the selection process has not yet been finalised.

Conservative Ian Hudspeth said his party would have chosen their candidate by June 29.