The Tories and the Electoral Commission

Here’s what section 146(1) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (the “Act”) provides:

The Commission may by notice require the relevant person in the case of any supervised organisation…—

(a) to produce, for inspection by the Commission or a person authorised by the Commission, any such books, documents or other records relating to the income and expenditure of the organisation or individual as the Commission may reasonably require for the purposes of the carrying out by them of their functions…

From this Electoral Commission statement it appears that the Commission did make such a request:

The Commission issued the Conservative and Unionist Party with two statutory notices requiring the provision of material relevant to its investigation.

Subsection 146(5) provides:

A person commits an offence if he fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with any requirement imposed under this section.

From the Electoral Commission statement it appears that the relevant person failed to comply with the request.

However, the Party has…. provided… no material in response to the second notice (issued on 23 March 2016). That follows the Commission granting extensions of time to comply.

Unless there is a “reasonable excuse” – and the Electoral Commission statement mentions none – the “relevant person” will already have committed an offence.

It makes no difference to the analysis if the documents are subsequently handed over – because there has already been a failure to comply with the request.

The “relevant person” is defined by section 146(9) thus

relevant person”, in relation to a supervised organisation…, means… in the case of an organisation, any person who is or has been the treasurer or another officer of the organisation…

The Conservative Party website gives as the Treasurer of the Conservative Party Lord Lupton.

And by Schedule 20 of the Act a failure to comply with section 146(5) is punishable on summary conviction at level 5. Although my specialism lies elsewhere I understand the consequence to be that a fine of unlimited amount may be imposed: see herehere and here.

You may wonder why the Electoral Commission Statement makes no mention of this commission of a criminal offence. But no matter. Tomorrow I shall refer the matter to the Police.

Postscript: 13 May 2016. 

It may be that a different, or further, offence has been committed under Schedule 19B paragraph 13 of the Act. I have, today, reported both prospective offences to the Metropolitan Police who will take a statement from me on Monday.


7 thoughts on “The Tories and the Electoral Commission

  1. As none of the major political parties has any interest in a strong Electoral Commission, I expect this issue will be quietly buried.

  2. Labour should be super-interested.

    But for this alleged fraud, the Tory party may not have achieved their wafer-thin majority and thus, the right to govern.

    In other words, the Tories may have inflicted all this harm on the public – austerity, welfare cuts, NHS reforms, etc – without ever having the right to do so – because they cheated in key marginal seats in the General Election. That is massive.

  3. Pingback: The Tories and the Electoral Commission | Britain Isn't Eating

  4. According to Guido, Labour and the Lib Dems were playing the same games. No doubt that explains their defening silence.

  5. It wouldn’t surprise me. I was speculating the very same last weekend.

  6. I was wondering about the constitutional issues of what appears to be serious electoral fraud in the 2015 election.

    Given the Tories’ wafer thin majority, finding even half the suggested number of cases means that the government will fall even without the internecine warfare going on in the Tory party. This much is obvious.

    The question should therefore be asked is – was the government that took office in 2015 actually legitimate? Is there a definition somewhere in constitutional law of a legitimate government? If some of the seats were won by orchestrated criminal behaviour. not just the odd case, surely the government is illegitimate which leads us into totally uncharted waters, not only in the UK but internationally (at least among the larger countries).

    For example, what of all the actions and legislation in the last year? Should all this be struck down? Should contracts entered into be null and void? (It would make for some interesting claims for damages.) Should appointments and payments be cancelled, new peers dismissed?

    And most pertinently, should the EU referendum be cancelled or postponed, (because it depends on the 2015 EU Referendum Act) until a legitimate government is formed, which would probably need a general election as Labour have nowhere near enough seats to govern.

    If the referendum goes ahead and some or all of the Tory MPs are subsequently found to have acted criminally, there would be good grounds for a claim, probably by the losing side, that the referendum was illegal and the result should be struck down.

    Just a thought or two.

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