Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Nadine Dorries Facing Election Petition

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I acted as Tim Ireland’s counting agent during the count of votes following the Parliamentary Election in the Mid Bedfordshire constituency, and was present at Central Bedfordshire Council’s Chicksands headquarters, when the count took place]

Today’s Independent front page brought potentially unwelcome news for Mid Bedfordshire’s Tory MP (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries, with the kind of front page splash to which she is not accustomed: rather than focusing on her campaigning, or her carefully crafted reputation as a Parliamentary maverick who is prepared to “tell it like it is”, the Indy told readers that she was facing an election petition.
This was not new news to anyone familiar with these things: that a petition had been issued on behalf of unsuccessful independent candidate Tim Ireland had been announced by barrister Greg Callus nine days ago via Twitter. This news was picked up by the ever-alert Mark Pack, who posted on it two days ago. Now the Indy has the story, and it has also been covered by the Guardian. Exactly what is at stake should prove instructive.
As the Indy says, Ireland “lodged an election petition claiming [Ms Dorries] had accused him of being a stalker and a ‘dangerous criminal’ … The Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire could lose her seat if the smear allegations contained in the election petition, which has been lodged at the High Court by the unsuccessful independent candidate Tim Ireland, are accepted by judges”. There’s more.
The petition “claims that in the run-up to the general election on 7 May, Ms Dorries attacked the ‘personal character and conduct’ of Mr Ireland by levelling 14 separate ‘false accusations’ against him through her Twitter account, internet blog and comments in the media … Under section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, it is illegal for anyone to make a ‘false statement of fact’ in relation to an election candidate’s ‘personal character or conduct’ – unless they can show they had ‘reasonable grounds’ for believing it to be true”. What might happen if the petition were to be accepted is also outlined.
If Ms Dorries is found guilty of ‘illegal practices’, the election result would be declared void and she would be removed from her seat, triggering a by-election”. The case of former Labour MP Phil Woolas is then given as an example. He suffered disqualification.

The election petition also claims that “Ms Dorries is also guilty of breaching section 110 of the same Act, which prohibits candidates from distributing election material without making ‘the name and address of the printer and publisher’ clearly visible”. This pertains to the now-infamous Shefford hustings event (you can read Ms Humphrey Cushion’s account of proceedings HERE), and a later letter distributed within the constituency.

This blog makes no further comment on the election petition, other to point out that Ms Dorries has not as yet chosen to make any statement in response to the news, and nor have any of her media friends put head above parapet. Were she to suffer the same fate as Phil Woolas, the Tories would expect to win any by-election and thereby retain the seat.

What I will say, and very clearly, is that actions have consequences.

1 comment:

Malcolm Redfellow said...

Were she to suffer the same fate as Phil Woolas, the Tories would expect to win any by-election and thereby retain the seat.

Which would surely count as a Tory gain. Or, at the very least, one for truth and decency (or am I alone in recalling how candidate Nurse Bargery's position on abortion differs from that of mature Mrs Dorries?)

Those who observe Mrs Dorries's humanity and ability to relate to other folk might like this:
Ms Dorries, who is also an author, said that she had named Rev Cameron in full in her latest book as she wanted him to spend the “rest of his life in fear”. She only recently discovered that he had died.

He died in 2011. So safe to name him now, Nadine.