Jack Straw is guilty of the criminal offence of treating – offering food and drink to electors as an induucement to vote – under the Representation of the People’s Act 1983, Clause 114 (2). The maximum penalty is one year in prison. As a corrupt electoral practice it brings disbarment from parliament for life – including the House of Lords.
The evidence against Straw is overwhelming. Free food was given to hundreds of Blackburn Muslim voters at a rally in his constituency on Sunday 25 April 2010. Speeches were made specifically calling on the recipients of the free food to vote for Jack Straw in Blackburn. He also made a speech urging them to vote for him, and he approached voters individually to ask for their votes in the hall where the free food was being given out.
Affidavits have been sworn to this effect and handed to the police. You can see them here:
A complaint about him has been formally made to Blackburn Police and given police report ref LC-201004271237.
Treating is not an obscure offence. It is number 2 in the Electoral Commission guidebook for police officers
It is also detailed in the Association of Chief Police Officers “Guidance on Preventing and Detecting Electoral Malpractice” .
At Page 22 of the ACPO guide, there is important information on how Blackburn Police should be conducting this investigation:
1.1Suggested action for all cases:
respect the secrecy of sealed documents and seek advice before opening
when election documents become evidence in a potential crime, the method of preservation by the police should include consultation with the elections office to agree a mutually beneficial way forward
invite the suspected party for interview under caution or consider Section 24(e) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 (as amended by the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005)
consider advice from the Special Crime Division of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
inform the Returning Officer and the Electoral Commission via police SPOC
advise Police National Information and Computer Centre (PNICC) in scheduled return of all allegations and outcomes or immediately if there is a major allegation
In fact I expect them to avoid telling the Police National Information and Computer Centre – the authorities will try to bury this quickly and corruptly in Blackburn. There is a plaque proudly displayed in the entrance of the police station where I reported this treating. It states that the station was opened by Lord Taylor of Blackburn – the highly crooked Labour Party politician who was last year suspended from the House of Lords for Corruption –
The police station plaque bears another name also – Lord Adam Patel of Blackburn, who was put in the House of Lords because of his work as an “enforcer” of the Blackburn Muslim vote for Jack Straw, and who was himself present and implicated in the present instance of massive treating – see the affidavits above.
I am therefore sending copies of the dossier to the Independent Police Complaints Commission to be sure it is investigated properly, and the full rigour of the law applied to Mr Straw.
Christopher Hope of the Telegraph contacted Jack Straw’s constituency office, who gave one lie and two irrelevancies in reply to this accusation of treating. Straw’s defence is:
1) That people were asked to make a voluntary contribution to the cost of the food.
That appears to be a simple lie by Straw. All of the witnesses to whom I spoke – and I interviewed many others who were too scared to swear an affidavit – said they were never asked to make any contribution.
2) That the Returning Officer had approved the arrangements in advance.
He can’t. Straw’s people are, to say the least, very chummy with the Returning Officer. But Treating is a criminal offence and the Returning Officer can no more OK it than he can OK burglary. The Returnng Officer has no role at all in determining whether treating has taken place, which is solely a matter for the police, crown prosecution service and courts. Mr Tom Hawthorn of Electoral Commission HQ in London has confirmed this to me. It is also made very clear here:
3) That the advertisements for the event did not mention that free food will be provided
This is a complete irrelevance introduced by Jack Straw. Prior advertisement is nowhere a condition of the offence. The offence is of offering food and drink to influence someone to vote. Crimes are not mitigated because you do not advertise them in advance.
As I see it, the Police now have to act. Either Straw has to be charged under Representation of the People Act 1983, 114(2), or I have to be charged under the Representation of the People Act 1983, 106 – for making a false statement about a candidate.
If no action is taken against Straw, I shall be advertising free meals for anybody in Blackburn who wishes to vote against him.