Jack Straw Faces Disbarment From Parliament and One Year in Jail 84


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:

Download file

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

http://www.tinyurls.co.uk/I2081

It is also detailed in the Association of Chief Police Officers “Guidance on Preventing and Detecting Electoral Malpractice” .

Download file

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:

preserve evidence

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 –

http://richardwilsonauthor.wordpress.com/2009/01/25/sunday-times-exposes-uk-government-corruption-labour-members-of-the-house-of-lords-agree-to-take-cash-for-backing-legislation-changes/

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:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/guidance_issued_on_eros_consent

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.


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84 thoughts on “Jack Straw Faces Disbarment From Parliament and One Year in Jail

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  • Mr. Eatenswill

    A most important matter, Sir, most important. Far be it from me to ask whether the accused parties might argue that the meat and drink were not to instigate any voting or abstention therefrom, but merely to sustain weary unsaddled travellers in keeping with local customs of hospitality. I am sure that the case will be swiftly brought to the attention of the Minister of Justice himself!

  • Hector

    There’s an interesting article here about “treating” in Scotland a few years back, where one of Murdoch’s goons infiltrates the SNP and mentions receiving food, though not realising that “treating” is an offence.

    The interesting part however is that the blogger who is questioning the goon’s account quotes from the material given out to Labour party agents:

    “The legal guidance Labour Party Agents get makes it quite clear that this is an area where you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law:

    “The ‘treating’ of electors is a corrupt practice and you must be very careful that it is avoided.

    A person shall be guilty of ‘treating’ if s/he, either before during or after an election, directly or indirectly provides any food, drink or entertainment, to influence that person to vote or refrain from voting at that election. Free food and drink should not be provided at public meetings or

    meetings of supporters. A charge should be made for any food or drink provided to avoid any possibility of treating.

    Agents should also take care that any provision of refreshments for election workers, which may be seen as ‘payment in kind’ are treated as such and could not be interpreted as ‘treating’. In the case of members canvassing the public on the phone or the doorstep, it would be illegal to pay them for this work. It is therefore important that provision of refreshments for these workers is an occasional expression of gratitude and that it is quite clear that they are not promised in advance as an inducement to do this work.”

    So, does Jack Straw’s agent not receive these warnings too?

    http://lukeakehurst.blogspot.com/2008/07/sunday-times-implies-snp-could-be.html

  • Tom (iow)

    In Britt v Robinson the candidate was found guilty of treating even though “no bargain was expressly or impliedly made as to their votes on the election, nor did the voters understand or suppose their votes at the election were bought or engaged, or in any way bargained for.” Seems pretty clear.

    The need for “corruptly” is presumably to exclude, for example, buying a meal for one’s family where the candidate would have done so anyway. Not to give a ridiculously wide exemption to induce voters, but without inducing them “corruptly”: that would be absurd.

  • Jock Coats

    Yes, even in local elections we are advised to be extremely careful – even buying helpers a round of drinks after a busy day can be seen as treating if any of them are voters in the ward concerned.

    However, if the event (or even just the food and drink) was organised by someone not connected with the election campaign but who just happened to invite Labour speakers, I’m not sure that’s problem – though it may be a donation in kind.

    *Everyone* as you say, knows that treating is an offense, so I’d be surprised if anyone of that stature would do it so blatantly.

  • Dara

    Reminds me of the events in Ireland during the famine, where Anglicans ran around the country offering free soup to Catholics who would convert.

    Ever since then the phrase “took the soup” has been used to refer to anyone who had been corrupted by bribes or whatever.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Souperism

    Whenever Ronald Reagan visited Ireland during his presidency, there were all these people running around with placards and tee shirts saying “Souper Reagan”.

    Some of the American networks reported it as bad spelling.

  • Jon

    Interesting that the Telegraph might get involved. I’d be pleased for them to launch into this as per the expenses scandal, even if in this case it might be propelled somewhat by their political preferences rather than the law.

  • Justin

    “*Everyone* as you say, knows that treating is an offense, so I’d be surprised if anyone of that stature would do it so blatantly.”

    Everyone knows that slaughtering millions is wrong.

    Doesn’t stop those of “stature” doing as they please.

  • James Cranch

    Um, ObiterJ, I’ve read that link, and that suggests that a prosecution would be normal.

    Indeed, it says that “Proceedings for major infringements will normally be in the public interest.”

    It goes on to qualify situations where no proceeding would be justified:

    “the offence is of a ‘technical’ nature which does not infringe the spirit of the legislation;”

    This is not a technical offence; Craig has explained already how it exactly violates the spirit of the legislation.

    “the offence was committed as a result of a genuine mistake or misunderstanding”

    That seems unlikely: Craig has explained already how Straw has done this before.

    “the offence could not have influenced the result of the election process”

    This offence clearly could have.

    “the offender has remedied any breach of the law.”

    Encouraging the constituents to regurgitate the food is impossible, since I should think it has long ago been digested.

  • isla dowds

    This has to be one of the most pathetic things I have ever seen… Mr Murray am I reading this correctly, that you are instigating this? Is this the most important thing a ‘human rights activist’ and our overstretched cps have to do with their time and our money?

  • Ishmael

    Nothing will happen, most likely. They will try and murder you before Straw does porridge. You know the script. Politics in the good ole Uk are a disease, a virus. People are clamouring for honesty, withdrawal from a foreign policy which will never change. Does it not matter that after blowing our money, and doing it badly, they continue to keep the cash taps on full flow. Tax increases no, tax reductions yes. Not an empire maybe a banana republic on drugs. It was not my stupidity.

    During 2004 i caused a stink at a large financial firm when i sent an email to the BOE asking if there was a limit on the amount of liquidity the central bank could pump in to a failing economy. I wondered what the fuss was about, now i think did they know what was going to happen, surely yes, simple economics. I wonder of the hellish period we have endured was simply planned in advance. Who owns the BOE?

  • Craig

    Isla,

    It is pretty important to have a law to prevent the bribing of voters. And it is pretty important, when you have a criminal law, to enforce it, even on New Labour ministers.

  • Clark

    I’ve cobbled the Association of Chief Police Officers “Guidance on Preventing and Detecting Electoral Malpractice” file into a PDF, for anyone sensible enough not to have Micro$oft Word installed:

    http://www.killick1.plus.com/electoral_malpractice.pdf

    I’m not sure if it’s complete though.

    Are our police officers really expected to read this sort of thing? It’s over seventy pages, FFS, and that’s just one document…

  • Clark

    Isla Dowds,

    the Returning Officer didn’t consider it a trivial matter when an independent candidate was going to do the same, see:

    http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/04/jack_straw_trea.html

    “It is worth noting that an independent candidate, Bushra Irfan, was reported to the police by the returning officer for an internet page that suggested that food would be given at a meeting. Irfan’s campaign apologised and removed the offending page; no food was given. However Jack Straw was able to actually give out seven hundred meals under the noses of the police, with not a word said by the Returning Officer, who by law should now disqualify him.”

    Should the law be applied unevenly?

  • MJ

    “However, if the event (or even just the food and drink) was organised by someone not connected with the election campaign but who just happened to invite Labour speakers, I’m not sure that’s problem – though it may be a donation in kind”.

    Yes, that’s the issue. The shindig was organised by ‘Muslim Friends of Labour” and technically Straw was just another guest.

  • Dan Roberts

    Seriously, is this the best that Tory sympathisers can do?

    Let’s suppose for one minute that you are successful with your action:

    You will also ensure that everyone present who partook of the refreshments will also be guilty of the offence and condemn them to gain criminal records if convicted.

    Mr Murray, enjoy the remainder of your career, because after this, your credibility is essentially kaput.

    God bless.

  • mary

    On the previous thread Martin posted a link about Nadhim Zahawi standing as a Con. in Stratford on Avon.

    He was the co founder of You Gov and was the CEO until recently when he became a PCC. Still a shareholder – see his Register of Interests on his website.

    He is also connected to Archer.

    Wikipedia – Missing Kurdish aid

    In July 2001, Scotland Yard began investigating allegations that millions of pounds had disappeared from Simple Truth, a fundraising campaign run by Archer. He set up a charity with the Red Cross. He employed two Kurdish aides, Broosk Saib and Nadhim Zahawi, whom he nicknamed “Lemon Kurd and Bean Kurd.”[8]

    In May 1991, Archer organised a charity pop concert in aid of the Kurds of Iraq, starring Rod Stewart, Paul Simon, Sting and Gloria Estefan, who all performed for free. On 19 June 1991, Archer held up a cheque for £57,042,000, around £3 million came from the Simple Truth concert and appeal, £10m from the UK government, and the remaining £43 million from overseas governments’ aid projects, with significant amounts pledged before the concert. The campaign led John Major to recommend Archer for his peerage.[8]

    In 1992, the Kurdish Disaster Fund wrote to Archer, complaining: “You must be concerned that the Kurdish refugees have seen hardly any of the huge sums raised in the west in their name,” Kurdish groups claimed little more than £250,000 had been received by groups in Iraq. Former Conservative Party vice chairman Lady Nicholson said “practically nothing” of the £57 million Archer said he collected had reached the Kurdish people.[13] Archer then went to Iraq on a fact-finding mission, where his chant of “Long Live Kurdistan” was unfortunately mis-translated as “Bastard, Devilish Kurdistan.”[8]

    A British Red Cross-commissioned KPMG audit of the cash showed no donations were handled by Archer and any misappropriation was “unlikely”. But KPMG could find no evidence to support Archer’s claims to have raised £31.5 million from overseas governments. The police said they would launch a “preliminary assessment of the facts” from the audit but were not investigating the Simple Truth fund.[14]

    We needed that laugh.

  • Craig

    Dan Roberts,

    Not many Tory sympathisers around here.

    Personally, I think that Straw should be facing war crimes charges at the Hague. But you have to get gangsters the way you can. Al Capone was jailed not for murder, organised crime or liquor smuggling but for tax evasion. It’s the same principle.

    MJ, you are claiming that the organisers of a “Muslims for Labour Rally”, held in Jack Straw’s constituency, at which every speech urged voters to vote for Jack Straw, and Jack Straw was present, were “Not connected to the campaign”. Don’t be an arse.

  • derek

    MJ @7:16

    It does not matter if someone else organised and paid for the event. That just makes them guilty of the criminal offence too.

    By attending the event Jack Straw made himself guilty.

    It it had gone ahead without Straw present then the organisers alone would be guilty unless the court decided Straw was in on the conspiracy.

    Straw is the Minister of Justice. Shouldn’t he respect the same laws as the rest of us?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    What’s happened to Larry? He seems to have evanesced ever since my long, expository invitation to him. But perhaps it has nothing to do with that and it’s just that he’s a foreign, rather than a domestic, policy wonk. Or, could it be that he has actually got onto a bus…? The Number 2 from Vauxhall Station, perhaps?

    Are you there, Larry,

    In the air, anywhere, everywhere?

    Have you ever heard a lark

    In the depths of the dark?

    Would you like a cup of tea,

    Or four, or two or three?

    Erethismo

  • Biffo the Bear

    Mr Murray, the ‘human rights activist’ has forced people to self-incriminate by providing sworn statements that they were in receipt the food.

    “Every elector or his proxy who corruptly accepts or takes any such meat, drink, entertainment or provision shall also be guilty of treating.”

    WELL DONE MR MURRAY. REALLY REALLY WELL DONE. GOOD JOB. A HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST FORCING PEOPLE INTO SELF-INCRIMINATION. JOLLY GOOD JOB I SAY!

  • Craig

    Biffo,

    Why do you think they inserted the word “corruptly” into the paragraph you just quoted?

    Idiot.

    Actually a number of the recipients are indeed also guilty, but not these witnesses.

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