A formal complaint that has been lodged by the Independent Party of Eastleigh Councillors that calls in to question the validity of Last night’s election result in Eastleigh Central.
Independent group leader Cllr Glynn Davies-Dear has submitted a formal complaint (reproduced below) to the returning officer.
Eastleigh Central was won last night from Independent Andy Moore by Lib Dem Keith Trenchard on his electoral debut – however earlier in the day Leaflets had been distributed throughout the ward erroneously describing Keith Trenchard as an ‘Experienced local Lib Dem councillor’
Cllr Trenchard did not respond to an urgently sent direct message from Eastleigh News requesting he clarified the issue, however it appears Cllr Anne Winstanley of Eastleigh Lib Dems, while admitting the claim was false told Cllr Davies-Dear it was the result of an error.
It is an offence under the ‘Representation of the People Act’ to make false statements regarding candidates.
The full text of Cllr Davies-Dear’s letter is reproduced below:
Eastleigh BC Returning Officer
At last nights Count, I informed you I had a serious complaint to make with regard to a leaflet distributed throughout Central Ward by the Liberal Democrat Party. I gave you a copy of the leaflet and informed you that, were the Liberal democrats to win the election in my Ward, I would be prepared to contest the result because of the content of the leaflet and its’ effect on the vote. You asked me to put my complaint in writing.
I am therefore now making a formal complaint to you and informing you that I have also lodged that complaint with the Electoral Commission. The Commission instructed me to place my complaint both with yourself and with the Police. Eastleigh Police are treating the matter as a case of fraud and deception and have given me a Crime Reference Number: 44110186447.
While delivering my own literature on Election Day morning, I picked up the Liberal Democrat leaflet in question. I noted that, what I took to be, a mistake had been made in the leaflet, namely that, as you have seen in the copy I gave you, their candidate is described as “experienced local Lib Dem councillor Keith Trenchard”.
In the context of the Election this was a very serious mistake to make: it not only gives a very false impression of their candidate’s qualities but also threw doubt on the truth of the fully justified description in my literature of my candidate as the ONLY candidate with experience. It must be obvious what harm this will have caused to my candidate’s cause.
I nonetheless understood how the mistake occurred: the leaflet was standardised for all three Wards in Town with just the names changed. Whether the description accurately portrayed the South Ward candidate is debateable but that is within the expected licence of an election I suppose.
I ‘phoned Cllr Winstanley, for the Lib Dems, to complain. She checked the wording, apologised and promised to issue a correction “in our next leaflet”. This conversation took place beginning at 10.55 AM. Not entirely satisfied with the response, I delivered a letter, a copy of which I enclose, to the Lib Dem Constituency Office relating the conversation and requiring a thorough rebuttal to be delivered to every home that received the faulty leaflet.
I have to tell you that I have no reason to believe any such rebuttal was made. The offending leaflet continued to be posted throughout Central Ward through the day and I have it on good authority it was still being delivered to homes at 19.00 hrs.
I consider this to be a most serious matter: what began, I am charitable enough to believe, as a simple mistake, takes on the aspect of a deliberate crime when deliberately allowed to continue as it was. I had Cllr Winstanley’s admission of the falsity of the leaflet, I had her promise to remedy the matter, but I have proof that the Lib Dems clearly decided to continue delivering the lie. The officer assigned to the police enquiry told my candidate this amounted to “blatant fraud”.
I am confidant that you will view the matter similarly.
I brought the matter to the attention of the Labour and Conservative Parties and am aware that Labour, at least, intend to make formal complaint, the Conservatives had not reached their decision by the time I left the Count this morning.
I leave the matter with you for now but I do believe the election must have been prejudiced by this and that the result should be put in question.