…for starting an illegal war of aggression. But bringing justice to Bush, Blair and their criminal crew will be an uphill struggle. In the meantime we had Jack Straw bang to rights on a lesser – but still serious – crime.
On 24 April 2005, in an election rally in Jack Straw’s Blackburn Constituency, over one hundred Blackburn electors were given a full free meal by the Labour party, with Jack Straw present, having just made an election speech to the lucky partakers of this generosity.
Every reader involved in electoral politics will know that this is a criminal offence under the Representation of the People Act, formally known as “Treating” – the provision of free food and drink to electors in an attempt to influence their vote. Conviction leads to forfeiture of the election, banning from public office and a prison sentence of up to two years.
It is also an offence of strict liability – a candidate is liable even if it was organised by someone else on his behalf. A candidate is viewed in law as responsible for his campaign. But in this instance, Jack Straw was actually present.
There was no shortage of witnesses – protestors were ringing the hall. The police were actually providing protection for this criminal event, and showed no interest in the fact that the proceeding was illegal. Jack Straw runs Blackburn as a personal fiefdom.
I therefore went to a police station and made a formal complaint. This obliged the police to investigate, and to do them justice, the detectives of Lancashire Police did a very good job, establishing the facts of the incident. They then sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service.
The Crown Prosecution Service returned the file to Lancashire Police, saying that the offence was “Trivial” and there would be no prosecution. As this was one of the worst examples of large scale electoral treating since it was made a criminal offence in 1832, presumably this means the CPS has decided that the law on treating has fallen into desuetude, and candidates may now provide food and drink to electors.
Or only New Labour ministers?
I am not expecting any brave decisions by the CPS in the Cash for Honours scandal.
The copy of the invite above is from a rather tatty photocopy I was given. But I have seen an original, and the copy is genuine.
See also: Straw accused of currying favour