A party leader has denounced the comments of one of his candidates which suggested he condoned drink driving.

John Zimnoch is standing as a Conservative Party candidate for Osbaldwick and Derwent ward. In comments attributed to him online he said he could “quite safely drive home after four or five pints”.


They date from more than 11 years ago, and were posted in response to a pre-Christmas 2007 article on the BBC website headlined The shame of drink-driving.

In a comment posted below the article John, who was then living in Toronto, Canada, wrote:

  • Drink limits should be higher, we are all pariahs.

    I am a big fellow and can quite safely drive home after four or five pints, it’s the idiots that get really drunk that need locking up and not people like myself being harassed.

The comments posted on the BBC website

Mr Zimnoch said he had no recollection of making the comments, but didn’t want to comment further.

Disappointing and inappropriate

Mr Zimnoch has been a prolific charity fundraiser. Photograph: fundrazr.com
Deputy leader of the York Conservative Party Stuart Rawlings expressed his disappointment at the comments.

He told YorkMix:

  • Drink driving is deeply reckless and irresponsible. For many years, Conservatives have worked with all parties to increase awareness of both its dangers and its impact.

    It is therefore disappointing to find out that one of our candidates appears to have made inappropriate comments on the subject, be it over 10 years ago.

    We had no knowledge of these comments during the selection process and do not condone them.

    Given the length of time, John can’t recall making them and is fully committed to all our efforts to improve safety on York’s roads.

    At a time when we are coming together to promote road safety, we believe it is unacceptable to make any remarks that make light of the subject or undermine the efforts of those campaigning.


A property specialist by profession, Mr Zimnoch is also a prolific fundraiser. He has raised thousands of pounds for charities, often through sponsored runs.

He has a plaque for outstanding fundraising in Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, which offered treatment and support as his daughter fought a losing battle with leukaemia.

The council election is on May 2.