Or, has the Advertiser mislead it’s readers?
Read comments here.
I read Gareth Dennison’s piece in last weeks Advertiser with interest. The story was cobbled together from copied emails provided by Rob Foulds, I was party to this circulation. So I was aware that by Friday, the story as published, was substantially misleading, because the final piece of the jigsaw from the Electoral Commission was not reported, and was the clincher in determining where the truth lies in this case.
I fully expected this to be covered again in this weeks Advertiser in view of the fact that Gareth knew the previous week, by the time the Advertiser hit the streets in fact, that his story was incomplete and gave a misleading impression as to where the actual fault lay. Needless to say I experienced anger and more than a little frustration at this thoroughly unprofessional journalistic behaviour, I expected better.
Labour in Rotherham are comfortable that their dominance will not be effectively challenged by anyone and have become careless and arrogant with their actions, especially so, since the Stone Age began.
The case of Chris Read’s address is an example of the way this dominance finds expression. This stunt was not the result of ignorance, but a calculated conspiracy involving the Labour Party and Senior Officers, who should know better! By election night, both Labour Councillors and Officers, were singing from the same hymn sheet about Chris Read and had let slip the extent of the discussions on this issue. I won’t name them, but I am indebted to them for the illumination they provided!
Unfortunately the Advertiser also fell for this official line, as though it was established fact, instead of the perverse interpretation of those blinded by self delusion and prejudice seeking a specific outcome. Where have the Advertisers objectivity and critical abilities gone? They must return! The Advertiser and it’s journalists really must start asking questions, instead of swallowing the Labour line, hook line and sinker!
Martin Kimber, Rotherham MBC Chief Executive, I am told is someone not easily persuaded to change his mind even when contradictory evidence comes to light! Stubborn and obstinate are words frequently used by those who work with him. Tim Mumford, just about to retire as the Assistant Chief Executive Legal and Admin, advised that their perverse interpretation of the nomination procedures was legal! It was not! They had convinced themselves that the phase ‘commonly understood’ meant they could accept a deficient nomination with the address incomplete! They couldn’t have been more incorrect on this point as the definitive evidence from the Electoral Commission shows!
The Labour Party also convinced themselves that they had come up with a ruse that was legal, even though their own Legal Handbook advised otherwise, and would conveniently conceal the fact that Chris Read was not a local candidate and improve their chances of winning this difficult to predict ward that has developed a penchant for voting Tory in recent years. Those involved, among others, were the ‘grinning goon,’ Reg Littleboy and Chris Read’s Agent, Sue Ellis from Wickersley Labour Party, who put their plan into action.
Despite crude criticism of Rob Foulds for his apparent pettiness on this issue, his critics are wrong in almost every particular. This issue is very important as it demonstrates all the current failings of the Labour Party and Senior Officers. Respect for either the Law or their professional duties is subject to compromise that breaches the codes of conduct that apply here. The ‘blue badge abuse scandal‘ and the reinterpretation of legal orders to allow a councillor to escape justice, is another example of this unacceptable attitude at work! As is the issue over the Printer installed in the ‘Members Room’ by the Labour Party and Kimber’s inadequate response, another of the seemingly partisan approaches taken by Martin Kimber and Tim Mumford that these recent examples shine a light on.
Sarah Hopson, from the Electoral Commission has confirmed Rob’s contention that a candidate has to complete the form and “the candidate’s home address must be completed in full and should not contain any abbreviations.” and that his address must be “commonly understood,” Chris Reed gave his address as Church Street, Rotherham which was wholly misleading and gave no common indication that he actually lives in Swinton. By the way, “commonly understood” means, how the locals would address themselves, it does not provide a cover for a deceptive address as in this instance!
It is clear that this deliberate deception was not legal or acceptable, this should serve as a lesson to the Labour Party locally, their arrogance will get them into trouble and nowadays their activities are being watched more closely than ever before!
Rob Foulds emerges from this sorry little tale of Labour chicanery, vindicated and with his dignity intact. Labour however have again demonstrated that there is no trick, they will not stoop to, to keep control of what happens in Rotherham! The Advertiser does not come out of this well either, they really must adopt a questioning attitude and not take the ‘official line’ as correct when they are in possession of the full facts! The police response, initially encouraging, was most disappointing. Even so, they acknowledged that deficiencies existed and undertook to remedy this in future elections.
Dear Mr Foulds
Thank you for contacting the Electoral Commission about your experience during the May 2011 local elections in Rotherham. The Electoral Commission has no power to intervene in, or investigate allegations of electoral offences however; your e-mail has been passed to me to inform you of our guidance on the matters you have raised.
The first point that you raise is outlining the particulars of the address that the other candidate put on their nomination form.
The advice contained within our Candidates and Agents guidance on this matter is that the candidate’s home address must be completed in full and should not contain any abbreviations. We cannot comment on any individual cases as this would be a matter for the courts to decide. Any allegations of false statements on nomination forms must be reported to the police. However, it should be noted that where a home address is not absolutely correct, the nomination would not be open to successful challenge as long as the address can be commonly understood. This is covered in section 50 of the Representation of the People Act 1983.
Your second point is about the failure to act by the Electoral staff. Returning Officers and their staff have to accept the information written on a nomination form on face value. They have no power to perform investigations into the details provided other than checking the electoral registration details of subscribers and that any description provided complies with the requirements of the Local Elections (Principal Areas) (England and Wales) Rules 2006. They are tasked with checking that every item required has been completed and copying the details contained on the nomination form verbatim from the form onto the official documentation e.g. official notices and ballot papers.
Once the Returning Officer has made a decision that a nomination paper is valid, it cannot be challenged during the election, it can only be challenged after by way of an election petition. Just to note, the deadline for election petitions for 5 May elections has now passed.
I hope that this information is useful to you, if I can provide you with any further guidance on electoral matters please do contact me using the details given below.
Regional Liaison Officer The Electoral Commission
Date: 24 May 2011 16:42
Subject: Re: Local Elections Rotherham 2011
To: Rob Foulds <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Graham.Wragg@southyorks.pnn.police.uk, Caroline.Newman@southyorks.pnn.police.uk
Dear Mr Foulds
I have now examined your complaint and researched the relevant legislation
and Electoral Commission guidance notes and respond as follows:
As you indicate the address “2A Church Street, Rotherham, S64 8QA” would
perhaps be enhanced by the addition of ” Swinton”.
A person standing in that Ward does not have to reside in that Ward to
be a candidate providing he meets one of the four qualifications. Most
residents in Wickersley will know S64 isn’t their postcode.
Only the Labour Party Handbook gives actual specific guidance to include
the name of the village and in fact the more authoritative Electoral
Administration Act example you quote fails to give the village/area
As you concede, it can be argued that his description does adequately
allow his address to be identified.
You received on the 6th April the “statement of persons nominated” which
included Mr Read’s name and address and on the 8th April the “Notice of
Poll” again including his name and address in the same form. However you
did not raise the matter until the evening of Polling Day when someone
else alerted you. I understand you are the Clerk to Bramley Parish
Council and perhaps better acquainted with these matters than most
candidates would be.
No changes could have been made to the nomination paper or new papers
submitted after the deadline and there is no legal requirement for
election staff to provide an informal inspection service for nomination
I have discussed the matter with my line manager and we are both agreed
that as no offence appears to have been committed by Mr Read no further
Police action will be taken The matter will be recorded with the Police
National Information Coordinating Centre, which reports to ACPO and The
Electoral Commission and I will ensure when we provide briefings to
candidates in future I will stress this area of the legislation. I did
attend the Rotherham briefing on the 6th April 2011, but I do not recall
this specific area being the subject of any questions.
Research and Development Unit
Economic Crime Unit
Wickersley Notice of Poll Read here: Does this represent a Full Postal Address? I don’t think so!!!
Extract from the Labour Party’s ‘Keep it Legal,’ 2011 Election Manual:
“The home address of the candidate must be the official home address – not a business address or a temporary address. The place of residence must be fully stated, including the name of the town or village.”
Original Complaint: To read click here.