Fourteen Conservative election candidates are under police investigation after leaflets delivered to thousands of properties across North Lincolnshire claimed Labour councillors “voted to increase car parking fees and charges”. Not only has there never been a vote on car parking charges but Labour made a commitment to freeze charges in local car parks for the next four years.

As Phil Woolas discovered to his cost, section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 states:

“A person who, or any director of any body or association corporate which—

(a) before or during an election,

(b) for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate at the election,

makes or publishes any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate’s personal character or conduct shall be guilty of an illegal practice, unless he can show that he had reasonable grounds for believing, and did believe, that statement to be true.”

It remains to be seen whether Woolas’ case has put the brakes on leaflet lies.

  1. Er, no; this is similar in nature to the third claim against Phil Woolas – you know, the one that went his way. You can’t lie about someone’s personal conduct or opinions – but their actions in their official capacity as councillors are not a matter of personal conduct, and therefore not covered. Which reinforces the ubiquitous practice of lying about one’s opponents in office.

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