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Police Investigate Ground Move Politics

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http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverp...64375-20929732/

 

 

A DOSSIER has been handed to police claiming that Everton FC and Tesco may have illegally influenced the results of the recent local elections in Knowsley, the Daily Post can reveal.

 

They could face prosecution over electoral offences once an investigation has been concluded by Merseyside Police.

 

The dossier and complaint refer to a glossy leaflet and DVD circulated to every household in Kirkby at a cost of £22,000 during the final week of the recent local election campaign.

 

The mail-out promoted the merits of the £400m Destination Kirkby development which includes a massive food store, new football stadium for Everton and shopping centre.

 

Both Everton and Tesco have strongly denied any wrong-doing or suggestion that they attempted the influence the election.

 

Kirkby Labour candidates, including Cllr Eddie Connor, a Labour spokesman on the project, backed the project in the run-up to the elections.

 

But anti-stadium protesters formed the single issue party First4Kirkby party who vehemently opposed the planning application along with Lib-Dem candidates.

 

Kirkby Residents Action Group now claims that the election campaign became, in effect, a single issue vote on the Tesco/Everton development which they claim will involve the demolition of local homes, the closure of a local school and the loss of community parkland.

 

They point to Labour councillor Mal Sharp’s admission that the local poll was, in effect, “a referendum” on the project.

 

As a result, objectors have submitted formal complaints to the police.

 

The substance of their case is that Tesco and Everton deliberately intervened into the political debate in an attempt to subvert the democratic process. The First4Kirkby group failed to win a seat with their three candidates, but did come within 16 votes of a win in one ward.

 

KRAG spokesperson the Rev Tim Stratford said: “There are strict legal rules stipulating how much candidates can spend on publicity during an election campaign, and these rules apply also to third parties whose material has the effect of promoting or disparaging particular candidates.

 

“In a highly charged political environment, Everton and Tesco circulated expensive propaganda material on the eve of an election which clearly promoted the position adopted by the Labour Party and was obviously likely to influence the way that people voted.

 

“This is a blatant breach of Section 75 of The Representation of The People’s Act. Big companies should not be allowed to use their corporate muscle to influence the democratic process and aid the election of candidates who support their commercial objectives. This is cynical and illegal, and we trust that matter will now be properly investigated.”

 

He refers to section 85(4) of the act that makes it clear that it does not matter whether the material names the candidates or party which it is intended to benefit or disparage.

 

KRAG and fellow objectors believe they have a strong case. They say the test is whether the material can reasonably be regarded as intended to benefit a particular party's electoral prospects.

 

The allegations are now in the hands of the police, who are conducting initial investigations.

 

A police spokesman said: “We can confirm that the force has received correspondence from KRAG outlining their concerns. We’re making initial inquiries into the issues they’ve raised to see if there’s any offences that have been committed.

 

“It would be inappropriate for us to go into further detail at this stage in our inquiries.”

 

However, Everton and Tesco damned the move as “arrant nonsense”.

 

Everton spokesman Ian Ross said: “The DVD was simply part of a process that we said we would embark on from day one.

 

“You have to accept that detractors will consistently find fault. But these people who are accusing us here are the very same people who accuse us of not outlining our plans clearly enough. Yet, when we go to the expense of producing a high-quality DVD at £22,000 they complain again.

 

“The threat is a waste of everybody’s time.”

 

DVD:

 

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I'm surprised this hasn't made the national news what with the current anti-Labour, sleaze climate.

 

Another nail in the coffin of Kirkby though, lets walk away before it gets embarrassing

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Just watched the video for the first time, theres a huge legal loophole for them in the fact that they dont mention either the local elections, a political party or any local candidates.

 

Therefore legally and politically its all about percieved connections

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On the Labour MP George Howarth's website, there are quotes prepared by Tesco that read almost verbatim to the words spoken in the video.

 

http://georgehowarthmp.org.uk/georges_view...submission.html

 

Right click on that, open a new window and read it whilst listening to the video.

 

Interesting read here: http://www.liverpooltimes.net/2008/05/11/d...ocal-elections/

 

And also two outcomes of court cases:

 

DPP v Luft 1977 – Lord Diplock said “On a prosecution for this offence, it is not necessary to prove that the expense was incurred with the intention of promoting or procuring the election of one particular candidate but it is sufficient to establish an intention on the part of the person incurring the expense to prevent the election of a particular candidate or particular candidates.”

 

Meek v Lothian Regional Council 1983 – here the distribution of a pamphlet by a local authority prior to a local government election was considered to be a prima facie breach of what is now section 75 RPA, because it was not restricted to a factual description of the authority’s decisions but also gave the reasons for them; having regard to the timing of the publication and the persons controlling it, the court thought that it was impossible to avoid the conclusion that it was calculated to promote the election of candidates supported by the majority party in the local authority notwithstanding that they were not named.

 

It'll be interesting to see if the nationals do pick up on this.

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A sorry side of politics tainted by sleaze again unfortunately this will be wiped under the carpet soon enough, and if it did get any further a trial would take a very long time.

 

I'm thinking none of the nationals have picked up on it because they dont think it will get anywhere

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On the Labour MP George Howarth's website, there are quotes prepared by Tesco that read almost verbatim to the words spoken in the video.

 

That's linked from another page on his website Louis (HERE) and clearly marked as Tesco's pitch (along with submissions from many others including KRAG).

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I know that Mike :) I was pointing out that the statement and the dvd audio are very similar.

 

Having seen the DVD.. I still don't know how it it was informative?

 

An interesting twist is that the CEO of Knowsley Council holds a similar position at the Merseyside Police Authority.

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I know that Mike :) I was pointing out that the statement and the dvd audio are very similar.

 

That's because it's a Tesco's DVD and a Tesco's statement, it would be a bit odd if they were different :huh: . I don't understand your point :) .

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It's not that I expect them to be vastly different, they are almost verbatim. Whoever it is, Tesco or Everton spent £22,000 on promotional DVDs, I would have thought that the DVD would have been more informative than what is basically an audio version of a statement that has been around for a few months. That's all.

 

 

 

Anyway quiet, or you'll be banned for the use of red in your signature :P

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