Sunday, 8 July 2012

What the electoral commission say about Helen Michael's alleged misdemeanor

Helen Michael has had two visits from the police regarding a poster displayed by Barnet traders to highlight the unfairness of the parking charge regime. She's also been grilled for two hours by two officers from Scotland Yard. It is also clear from the transcript Helen took that a senior Barrister had been engaged to give a legal view on the subject.

The "crime" Helen is alleged to have committed? Not putting an imprint on the posters. What normally happens, when people inadvertently make this mistake? I am endebted to one of our team of Barnet armchair sleuths for drawing our attention to what the electoral commission say on their website. So has all this Police time and resource been wisely used? Make your own mind up. I have

There were 271 cases investigated in Britain in the whole of 2010. (para 2.12).  All but one resulted in no action or a caution. 
Note the following paragraphs:
While it is relatively easy to produce evidence of breaches of imprint
offences, many offenders are not prosecuted on the grounds that it was not
intentional. Many candidates claim ignorance or state that it was an inadvertent
oversight. In such cases, it is often deemed not to be in the public interest to
bring a prosecution and they often result in no further action ass was the case in
almost half of s110 offences. However, some police officers issue a warning or a
caution to preven
t them from committing the same offence at future elections
11 of the 31 cases (35%) were resolved in this way.
2.7 only one case resulted in a criminal conviction whereby the defendant was required to pay a fine :-
2.36 Manchester – Miles Platting and Newton Heath ward
A defendant pleaded guilty to being paid £50 to deliver up to 1,000 leaflets that made allegations about the character of a particular candidate. These leaflets claimed the candidate was corrupt and that he took backhanders. The offender gave a description of the man and woman who paid him the money but it has not been possible to identify them. As the defendant pleaded guilty and had no interest in the election contest other than his payment he was fined:-
£50 for distributing leaflets without an imprint (s110) and
£50 for making false statements about the candidate (s106).
He was also fined £85 costs plus £15 victim support.
2.13, [most reported cases are] based on misunderstanding of the rules rather than actual malpractice. [NB - this shows that an inadvertent breach of the electoral law is not seen as malpractice]


Mr Mustard said...

Of course there is one difference in Barnet, every remark about the character of the particular candidate, and 101 reasons were found on one site with some left over, was true.

Morris Hickey said...

De minimis non curat lex.

Lavinia Busazi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lavinia Busazi said...

De minimis non curat lex...the law does not concern itself with trifles. 'Someone' should get their just desserts for pursuing the complaint.

Mrs Angry said...

Although originally the poster was the matter of a council complaint, it would seem clear now that the resurrection of this issue is a pretext, but no less scandalous - nip over to my blog to find out more ...

Morris Hickey said...

Desserts - baked jam roll and custard?

Morris Hickey said...

A friend and former neighbour has reminded me today of the following.

For many years local politicians and local government officers have suffered from delusions of adequacy.

baarnett said...

'Blackout' is on BBC1 tonight at 9pm.

Apparently, "Brian is elected Mayor, but is quickly drawn into a web of deception, in which no-one can be trusted. How long can he keep his dark secret from the bloggers?"

Or something like that.

Morris Hickey said...

Another quote:

"The council leader has an absolute genius for putting flamboyant labels on empty luggage".