Mayor fears five years in jail over illegal gun

Teddies parachuting from church tower at St Peter and St. Paul Church Wisbech Teddy bear day. Town Mayor Jonathan Farmer ready to launch Mayor Bear.
Teddies parachuting from church tower at St Peter and St. Paul Church Wisbech Teddy bear day. Town Mayor Jonathan Farmer ready to launch Mayor Bear.
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A former Mayor Jonathan Farmer is convinced he is heading for a five-year jail term after being caught keeping a “beautiful” James Bond pistol in a cupboard.

Mr Farmer, 56, who was arrested after officers with search dogs swooped on his home in Wisbech, is due to appear before magistrates on Monday.

Officers seized a German Walther PPK pistol dating back to the Second World War.

The gun was given to the Conservative councillor by a British soldier who fought at the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy in 1944.

The soldier took the deadly weapon, a much-treasured war souvenir, from a captured German officer, and Mr Farmer has owned it for 30 years.

Secret agent James Bond also used a Walthar PPK as his weapon of choice in the films Dr. No up to Tomorrow Never Dies.

Mr Farmer, who was mayor of Wisbech in 2008-9, today said he regretted keeping the gun and was now preparing himself for a long spell behind bars.

He said: “It was given to me by a friend, mainly because his wife wanted it out of the house. I just kept it in a cupboard.

“When he gave it to me, he said not to fire it because it had been deactivated. He said it would blow my hand off, so I never did and I assumed it was pretty safe.

“But one morning about six or seven policemen turned up at the house with their dogs. They asked me if I had any weapons in the house and I just showed them where they needed to go.

“It was all rather genteel really. But I suppose I shouldn’t have kept it. It was a sentimental thing - and it’s a beautiful piece of engineering. Now I’m likely to go prison for five years - that’s the way it’s looking.

“My life as it was has been pretty much eviscerated. Politics too are pretty much out, as of when I go to the crown court.”

Mr Farmer was arrested on January 19, taken to a police station at King’s Lynn, and later given bail.

He has temporarily stepped down from his post helping to run the local army cadet force.

Coventry-born Mr Farmer served as Mayor of Wisbech in 2008-9 and is a member of both Fenland District Council and Wisbech Town Council. His wife Susanah is acting town clerk of Wisbech.

Last year Mr Farmer collected his third degree by graduating in Law from Leicester De Montford University; he was awarded an upper second class honours.

He also has a BA Degree in Economics from Coventry University and an MA Degree in History from Birmingham University.

Mr Farmer is a former officer in the Territorial Army and served with the Regular Army in Bosnia. He is a Freeman of both his home city and London.

In early 2010 he was a senior member of an election monitoring team in war-torn Southern Sudan helping to validate the first free elections in 25 years.

Following his arrest Mr Farmer is expected to meet both Fenland Council leader Alan Melton and his deputy Chris Seaton. They are expected to explain that he will be automatically suspended.

A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said: “A 56-year-old man from Wisbech has been charged with possessing a firearm and is due to appear in court next month.”