UKIP claim articles in Cambridgeshire newsletter breach electoral law - but council official says 'we have no editorial control' over what was published
PUBLISHED: 22:26 23 April 2016 | UPDATED: 22:26 23 April 2016
The county wide contest to find a new police commissioner took a new turn tonight after UKIP released details of their complaints of alleged electoral fraud by the Conservative Party.
Councillor Paul Bullen, UKIP group leader on Cambridgeshire County Council, revealed copies of his complaint have gone to Cambridgeshire Police, Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC), the Electoral Commission and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Cllr Bullen’s complaint, supported by UKIP’s candidate for police commissioner, Nick Clarke, centres around the latest issue of community news magazine ‘Quay News’ and distributed throughout St Ives.
UKIP believes articles on three pages of the magazine breach election law – an accusation already denied by Huntingdonshire District Council.
Lesley Davies, elections and land charges officer, told UKIP that she had spoken to the council’s managing director Jo Lancaster about the articles in the magazine.
“We have no editorial control over what and where they put these articles,” she replied to Mr Clarke in an email. “We did not give permission for them to use our logo.”
However Cllr Bullen is determined the matter should be pursued and he wants to know why three local Tory councillors – including police commissioner candidate Jason Ablewhite - feature in articles that he considers are tantamount to advertisements.
“May I draw your attention to the HDC advert on page 10 where all three councillors have contributed an article and where, in Cllr Fuller’s article, Jonathon Djanogly MP has chosen to promote a petition of his and, in so doing, is complicit in the act?” says Cllr Bullen in his complaint.
“My accusation is that these articles are promoted by the individuals and HDC and that all three are blatant electioneering during the purdah period.
“On pages 18 and 19 there is another article by HDC in which they quote their Returning Officer, Jo Lancaster and Ben Brook of the Electoral Commission. Beneath the article is a further blatant promotion of Cllr Ablewhite as a candidate for the position of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Police & Crime Commissioner.
“Please note that no other candidate was contacted by either HDC or the publication itself to contribute.
“None of the articles have the required electoral imprint (promoted by etc.) attached.
“The Electoral Commission states that any such accusations must be reported to the police at the first opportunity for investigation.”
He added: “I’d be grateful if you would launch an urgent and immediate investigation into HDC, and the above named individuals, and their blatant flouting of election law.”
Cllr Bullen has also complained about Conservative election boards being placed on the verges of Ramsey Road, St Ives.
He told HDC: “Not only are those signs still there but a number of other signs have now been placed (also on grass verges) throughout the town. I’d be grateful if you could notify me as to what action, if any, HDC is taking to remedy this blatant abuse, by one political party, of election rules?”