From This Writer’s point of view, this result is optimistic.
Our fellow politics site, Wirral In It Together, submitted a complaint to the police after Theresa May made the statement in the image above during a BBC Question Time debate in the run-up to the general election.
Her claim was that Diane Abbott wanted to wipe records of criminals and terrorists from the DNA database, if elected into office as Home Secretary. This was a blatant lie; Ms Abbott had – and has – no such intention.
So Wirral In It Together submitted a complaint to the police, alleging that a false statement had been made, contrary to s.106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983.
I had a doubt about it. See, the thing about the ‘false statements’ section of the Act is that it relates to a candidate’s personal character and behaviour; the claim must be about something that is not directly related to their candidacy for political office.
So, yesterday, the police responded. They said: “The statements made on the television programme concern Ms Abbot’s (sic) political conduct rather than her personal conduct or character. As such these statements… do not amount to a criminal offence.”
Why do I find this optimistic?
You may recall that This Writer was accused of anti-Semitism – or at least, of supporting anti-Semitism – in the run-up to the council elections in May this year. a charity calling itself the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) and Brecon and Radnorshire’s Conservative MP, Chris Davies, both made this false statement about me, in attempts to force Labour to deselect me as a candidate, and to persuade the public to vote against me. These attempts were successful, although no guilt has been proved (obviously, because I am not an anti-Semite).
Like Wirral In It Together, I informed the police that a crime of making false statements had been committed, contrary to s.106 of the 1983 Act.
Like Wirral In It Together, I was told that the police would not investigate it because the comments related to my political conduct.
Unlike Wirral In It Together, I was able to prove that this claim, by the investigating police officer, is entirely false. His contention was that he had contacted the Labour Party and asked whether my membership had been suspended pending an investigation. it has – this is what Labour does now, if members are alleged to have behaved below-standard in their personal – personal – lives. On the basis of this, the officer claimed that the matter related to my political conduct.
Of course, it does not. The allegation of anti-Semitism had nothing to do with my bid for election to Powys County Council. I was not standing on a platform of hatred for Jewish people, which is what the law would require for the claim to stick. What the CAA and Mr Davies had said was not, “Mike’s a bad candidate because his policies are bad” or, “He’s disreputable in his political dealings”; they had said, “Here’s something completely unrelated to his candidacy that means you should oppose him” – and that’s the point.
So I complained about the handling of my case and an investigation has been taking place. As part of that, I submitted case law evidence regarding Alistair Carmichael, the former Scotland Secretary who managed to make a false statement about himself, under the terms of the Act, by lying about a leaked claim that Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, wanted David Cameron to be prime minister after the 2015 election. The offence was committed because, while the information had come to him in his role as Secretary of State for Scotland, what he did with it – most specifically the part where he lied about what he had done – reflected on him personally.
I have been informed by the officer investigating my case that Dyfed Powys Police’s legal department has made a ruling on the law relating to my complaint, and I shall be hearing from the Professional Standards Department (which deals with complaints about the handling of cases) in due course.
I am therefore a ball of nervous energy at the moment.
In the unlikely event that the decision falls against me, I have a further case law argument, which I discovered after I submitted my evidence to the investigating officer. But the evidence I have seen suggests that I should have my way.
And then there will be a criminal investigation, which should be very brief as all the evidence is already available to the police.
And then, we shall see what we shall see.
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