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Election Petition and Meaning of “Personal” Conduct

Published:

The Election Court dismissed a local election petition challenging the result of the local election result in Fens and Greatham ward in Hartlepool.

The Petitioner, who lost by 10 votes, challenged the election of Labour’s Cllr Elliott on the basis of s.106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. He alleged that she had committed an election offence by publishing a false statement in election leaflet which alleged that the Petitioner had voted for a controversial housing development when he had not.

The Court applying the Divisional Court’s judgment in Woolas, held there was a clear distinction between statements relating to “political” conduct and statements relating to personal conduct. It is axiomatic that the casting of a vote on a planning committee by an elected member is a “political” act. Since the election statement related to the Petitioner’s political position and did not attack his personal character or conduct it fell outside s.106 and no election offence was committed.

Sarah Sackman acted for the successful Respondent Labour’s Councillor Elliott