Earlier today the Barnet Eye published a response from the CEO of Barnet Council and electoral returning officer, Nick Walkley. The Barnet Eye believes that the response from Mr Walkley is highly unsatisfactory. We have also noted that in some of the other Barnet blogs, an attempt seems to be being made to absolve Mr Walkley of the blame for the ongoing police investigation. The Barnet Eye is rather surprised that there seems to be an attempt to disassociate Mr Walkley from the effects of his complaint. Here are a few of our considerations :-
a) Nobody reports something to the Police in the hope that the Police will immediately drop the investigation.
b) Barnet has seen repeated irregularities at various elections. The most serious of these in 2010 resulted in a full investigation into the arrangements for the Parliamentary election in Hendon ward and associated council elections on the same day. Mr Andrew Dismore lost by 105 votes, but there was widespread reports of undermanning of polling stations in non Conservative areas of Hendon. This resulted in many non Tory voters being unable to cast their votes. Mr Dismore believes that at least 105 Labour voters were prevented from voting for him by these cock ups. The in-house investigation decided that no one was to blame. Of all the problems with elections and there have been many, the Helen Michael poster is probably the most trivial, yet is the only one which has been reported by the returning officer to an external organisation for investigation.
c) A leaflet produced by the Conservative Party in Brunswick Park was withdrawn after a request from Mr Walkley. Given that the electoral commission deems the mistake made by Helen Michael as a minor transgression, caused by lack of familairity with electoral law, it is clear that a similar course of action would have been warranted. Had Mr Walkley not known the identity of Helen Michael, then a police investigation may possibly have been warranted, but given that the Leader of the Council tipped Helen off, this is not a credible line for Mr Walkley to take.
d) Mr Walkley claims that his comments about being pissed off with his treatment at the hands of local traders were not directed at Ms Michael or other Barnet traders. Given the scenario in which they were made (immediately after a meeting where Mr Walkley was given short shrift by Helen Michael and the traders), we believe that Mr Walkley is stretching our credulity asking us to believe that the comments wer enot directed at Helen Michael and the Barnet traders.
We have written to Mr Walley for further clarification of several points.