Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 6, 2017

Dummy Nearly Jailed For Election Offence

In 2012 a woman was arrested after a mannequin was entered as a candidate for the upcoming council elections. The dummy, named Helena Torry helenatorry [click pics to enlarge] was entered in the Hazlehead, Ashley and Queens Cross ward in Aberdeen.

Its election “agent” Renee Slater was charged by Grampian Police under the Representation of the People Act. A force spokeswoman said “Grampian Police can confirm that a 63-year-old female was charged in connection with an offence under the Representation of the People Act 1983 on Thursday April 19. A report will be sent to the procurator fiscal in due course. As the matter is now the subject of active proceedings, Grampian Police can make no further comment”.

On April 2, Aberdeen City Council published a revised Notice of Poll for the ward, ahead of the election which is due to take place on May 3. Returning Officer Valerie Watts said “It has been brought to my attention that Helena Torry, for whom a nomination paper was submitted for the Hazlehead, Ashley and Queens Cross ward, does not exist. In this case, it is clear from public statements from the purported election agent that the information on the form was inaccurate to the point of rendering the nomination a complete nullity, which can be disregarded for the purposes of the election”. And she added that “those concerned” would be billed for all costs involved in dealing with the matter. helentorry2
Ms Slater told STV News “This is not a police issue. This is an Aberdeen City Council issue. I think the police have much more important things to deal with than me”.

And in January 2013 the shopkeeper who entered the mannequin in a council election walked free from court after a prosecution blunder. Renee Slater, 64, had gone on trial after putting forward dressmaker’s dummy Helena Torry as a candidate. As Helena’s election agent, Slater put her name on the nomination papers and hand-delivered them to the returning officer. helenaprison
The dummy was registered to stand as a voice for the “silent majority” and the equality of citizens in last May’s Aberdeen City Council election. But when returning officer Crawford Langley discovered he’d been duped, he was forced to strike Helena off the list and go through the whole nomination process again.

Police charged Slater under the Representation of People Act 1983 and the dummy was seized and taken into custody. But she was cleared after Gregor Kelly, defending, argued the charge related to parliamentary elections and local government elections in England and Wales.

Sheriff Peter Hammond agreed and ruled there was no case to answer. Slater, who as Ron Slater, served as a Labour councillor said “I feel I’ve been vindicated. It has been stressful but I never felt guilty. I just want to thank the people who helped out, the friends of Helena Torry. She ended up with a personality and certainly has more charisma than some politicians. I think we will have a party, I’m not sure if Helena will eat or drink anything, though. I’m looking forward to a gin and tonic”.

During the two-day trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court, the dummy was wheeled in to ripples of laughter from the public gallery. Police officers called to give evidence had to formally identify the dummy.

Mr Langley said it could have been an expensive process if the election had gone ahead with Helena. He added “I am obviously disappointed that the case was dismissed. Since the decision was on this narrow technicality, it has not changed or clarified my understanding of the legal position in relation to the nomination process.”

Slater’s solicitor, Mr Kelly, said “My client told police that she sought to interject humour into a very austere process. Ms Slater did not seek to demean the electoral process.”

In a hilarious outcome Helena Torry, having stood in the council election despite being a plastic model, was named among the Huffington Post’s most influential mannequins. And why not, they asked, she made more of a splash than some politicians.
[sources Huffington Post, Daily Record, Newsline] And now we might all be asking which local dummy have we voted in?


  1. Hilarious! I’m surprised that in your final sentence you refer to the West Lancashire mannequin in the singular.

    • I am well known for my generosity to the WLBC mannequins in trying to keep the numbers under control.

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