Time runs out on Tory complaint about Nigel Kennedy’s voting comments
IF violinist Nigel Kennedy has been worrying about what he may or may not have said to The Guardian in an interview last weekend, he can stop right now. The police called in by Conservatives to investigate his comment that he had allowed a friend to use his wife’s voting card to vote for Glenda Jackson will go no further than writing him an advisory letter.
Officers say if a case was going to be brought – and this is the language of potentials and not a comment on whether Kennedy is actually guilty of anything – it would needed to have stemmed from a complaint within the 12 months that followed the 2010 election.
It’s an interesting position: what if evidence, completely hypothetically here, came to light three years after the ballot that somebody somewhere had scammed not just one vote but a whole batch of them. Remember the constituency was only decided by 42 votes. Would the police still be hamstrung by time limits if the result of the election had been affected? It sounds like any genuine crooks would just have to lie low for a year.
Below is the letter, police have sent to beaten Conservative candidate Chris Philp (pictured above with George Osborne) today explaining their stance in relation to his real life complaint about Kennedy’s quotes:
Dear Mr Philp,
Further to our phone call I agreed to put something in writing with regard to the allegation concerning Mr Nigel Kennedy. The matter had been passed to me as my unit are the single point of contact for election offences within London. We have reviewed your allegation and researched the relevant media reporting. I have also spoken to the CPS and the Electoral Commission about this matter.
You are correct in that Section 60 of the Representation of the Peoples Act (RPA) 1983 is the appropriate piece of legislation. It is an offence for a person to vote purporting to be another, known as personation, and it is also an offence to aid or abet personation. However, Section 176 of the RPA imposes a time limit on bringing prosecutions under this legislation of 12 months (extendable by another 12 months should an investigation have been commenced). The potential offence in this case would be outside of this time limit. For this reason the Metropolitan Police will be taking no further investigative action in this matter. For your information we have written to Mr Kennedy drawing his attention to the legislation and the offences it creates.
I will get back to you in respect of your other question regarding foreign national voting.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should I be able to be of further assistance.
DS Neil Smithson
On the night of the election count Glenda won on the first count by 78 votes. Chris Philp unsurprisingly called for a recount, though only a recount of the bundles of votes, rather than a full one. A number of Tory votes were found in that process, reducing Glenda’s majority to 42.
I was very surprised that Chris decided to concede defeat at that point. The margin was so small, it was early in the morning and counting mistakes are easy to make. If the result had been the other way round I can assure you we would have insisted on a full recount.
So it seems a bit strange that he would make this fuss now. Did he really think the police would investigate at this stage? Perhaps he found Kennedy’s boasting in the press as insulting. It seems to me more likely a tactic to cast aspersions over the manner of Glenda’s victory, which H&K Tories can use in the next campaign to stoke righteous indignation among neutrals and their supporters.
Since when did anyone need a voting card to vote?
No idea who this Emanuel is – they clearly were not there. We did have a full recount. It was watched in detail by dozens of scrutineers – one per counting agent form Labour and Conservative. It was not a bundle check – that is certain. Whoever the anonymous hack is who penned the comment they are talking out of their hidden rear end.
After a very slow and detailed re-count Chris, myself, CCHQ and the returning officer decided that as the recount had been so thorough that the result should be declared. Every ballot paper had been carefully re-counted and watched by hundreds of tiered but demanding eyes. Certain days remain vividly ingrained into your memory that to have them rubbished by someone who clearly not present is really galling.
Go one reveal yourself or Shut the etc up
David Douglas, election agent to Chris Philp 2010 election