Judge says Nigel Farage’s defeat by Tories could be ruled ‘void’ over expense scandal

Unit 2’s Judges & Civil Liberties has been provided a gift of an example in today’s news…

In short, Nigel Farage’s defeat in South Thanet at last May’s general election could be declared void after a judge said claims of overspending by his Tory opponents were “wholly exceptional”.

The UK Independence Party leader lost the race for Thanet South by less than 3,000 votes to Tory Craig Mackinlay in one of the most tightly fought battles of the election.

Following an ongoing investigation by Channel 4 into irregularities by the Conservative Party into the funding of their election campaigns in marginal seats (including South Thanet), today a bid by the Conservative Party to stop the investigation in South Thanet was rejected in court. Where the judge, Mr Barron, ruled that this investigation should continue and police should have a further 12 months to investigate this potentially explosive issue.

Explosive – because Nigel Farage is back in the news with the EU campaign, but moreover explosive because currently 10 other police forces are now undertaking similar investigations, with the possibility of affecting the results in 30 constituencies nationwide. As Mr Barron QC today said, “The consequences of a conviction would be of a local and national significance with the potential for election results being declared void.”

… So you need to read this one: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/01/judge-says-nigel-farages-defeat-by-tories-could-be-ruled-void-ov/

If this isn’t pertinent for an example of the courts being independent of politics and the government then I’m not sure what is? Of course an investigation doesn’t mean proof, but the potential implications for a government with such a small majority are fascinating.

This story is also relevant to Unit 1’s Elections as it’s a very current example of the dangers all elections face when it comes to misconduct. Similarly the failure of Farage to gain this seat was a headline feature of an election system that saw 13 million people vote for UKIP last year, but them only winning 1 MP.

This link to Channel 4 also has a useful clip worth a look: http://www.channel4.com/news/tory-expenses-police-given-extra-time-to-investigate

This story has some way to go, so keep your eyes on it!