The High Court has dismissed an application by the Conservative candidate at next Thursday’s by-election in the Tamworth constituency. Andrew Cooper complained that a Labour Party Facebook ad contained a false statement of fact in relation to his personal character and conduct, breaching s.106(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1983.
The ad had been paused on Facebook.
Ed Hughes is the Tory candidate for the seat at the general election. The court found that the ad indicated an undisclosed arrangement by which Mr Cooper, if elected, would stand down in favour of Mr Hughes at the general election. But references in the ad to a “winding down” payment of £29,000 Mr Cooper would receive from Parliament when he did so, did not suggest that Mr Hughes was paying him to do so. It did not therefore relate to Mr Cooper’s personal character and conduct, but rather a political position that he was taking. So even though the claimant had shown a prime facie case that the allegation was false if the ad went up again it would not breach s.106.