Posted by: westlancashirerecord | May 9, 2017

Breaking News-Tory LCC Election Offence

 A cloud of scandal is enveloping the West Lancashire Conservative Association, its senior management, and the WLBC today. WLR can report that a complaint against Tory candidate Eddie Pope and his agent Rob Bailey for breaching electoral law was handled internally at WLBC against legal instructions that such cases should go to the police.

Evidence contained within the Election material for Tory Eddie Pope by his agent Rob Bailey in Burscough & Rufford showed no “Imprint” as required by law. Pope won by a mere 195 votes. His leaflets, as in the copy here [click to enlarge] shows, do not have the required details, which are commonly referred to as ‘imprint’, by virtue of section 110 Representation of the People Act 1983 and section 143 Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. These details are: a) the name and address of the printer of the document b) the name and address of the promoter of the material, and c) the name and address of any person on behalf of whom the material is being published (and who is not the promoter).

The leaflets were dropped in Burscough and a sharp eyed resident brought one to the attention of West Lancashire Borough Council. In what will be seen as blatant disregard of the Representation of the People Act 1983 in which section 110 applies, WLBC dealt with it internally. Writing to the complainant on 3rd May 2017 about an election to be held on 4th May 2017 an officer stated that “An imprint is required on all promotional election material as per the Representation of the People Act 1983” [material which we now know to have been delivered on 2nd May 2017]. I have spoken to the candidate and his party”.

At this stage we ask if WLBC is aware that Official Decisions on the investigation and prosecution of imprint offences are a matter for the police and the prosecution services, and any allegations of non-compliance should be made to the Police. The rules on imprints apply to all candidates and agents. Was the opposing candidate Cynthia Dereli notified the law was broken and if not why not?

The reply went on “The delivery of this material has been stopped and items remaining have been collected and destroyed”. But who collected and destroyed the material from whom, and how were they disposed of?

The reply stated “Having spoken to the candidate and his party, I am confident that this is an isolated incident and that no malice or illusion was intended by this oversight”. With respect, this is quite unsatisfactory for an offence under electoral law. Where are the contemporaneous notes of the precise information provided by the candidate and his party that enabled WLBC to make this decision with such confidence? Who did WLBC speak to at the “party”?

Next, the WLBC reply states “In sorting this issue out the candidate has been prevented from campaigning for a significant portion of the day, which I consider a suitable outcome in the circumstances and a deterrent to it happening again”. But under precisely which part of the Representation of the People Act 1983 could WLBC have the authority so to decide, that prevention of campaigning is a suitable outcome instead of an unlimited fine on summary conviction?

And just to end the inquiry WLBC stated “I now consider the matter closed”…but “If you so wish, you may complete the attached complaint form and return it to me. I will then forward this to the Returning Officer, along with the actions I have taken, and the complaint will be formally logged”. Note that action, logged, not published for public transparency of how this “error or misjudgement” by a WLBC councillor of 12 years standing and an agent also with long previous service occurred.

For the record, the Police would state “It has been identified that the election material specified above does not contain the necessary imprint as prescribed by law. Your failure to include the imprint details is a breach of section 110 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, the penalty for which is currently an unlimited fine on summary conviction”.

West Lancashire Conservatives have been lurching from office to oblivion since 2015 and their fall from office. This latest episode shows just how inept they are. Basic electoral law ignored, risk of summary conviction, unlimited fines barely avoided. That’s the depth of their depravity.


Responses

  1. Yet another election offence by Conservatives. The latest in a L O N G list


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