With everything else that’s gone on around the Ealing Southall by-election and mere hours before the polls open, you’d think there was nothing left to be said until the result is announced tomorrow night.
And you’d be wrong, because just when you thought you’d seen every last twist and turn, Jonathan Isaby pops up at the Telegraph and manages to drop himself and the Tory Party right in the shit with a blog post (now hastily removed) that appears to contain a criminal breach of the Representation of the People Act:
Before anyone asks, the incriminating bit - which purports to show the postal vote tallies for the three main parties - has been blurred out for legal reasons, specifically those listed in Schedule 6, Section 66A of the 2000 amendments to the Representation of the People Act 1983, to whit:
“66A. - (1) No person shall, in the case of an election to which this section applies, publish before the poll is closed-
(a) any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election where that statement is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information given by voters after they have voted, or
(b) any forecast as to the result of the election which is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information so given.
(2) This section applies to-
(a) any parliamentary election; and
(b) any local government election in England or Wales.
(3) If a person acts in contravention of subsection (1) above, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.”
Got that? Up to six months in the Jeffrey Archer Suite at Belmarsh for publishing even the results of an exit poll before the polls close, never mind publishing the tallies that parties shouldn’t really be taking, from the verification of postal votes and Isaby manages to finger a ’source inside the Tory Campaign’ as having provided the information.
And lets not forget, of course, that should Her Maj’s Constabulary take a bit of a gander at this, then Isaby is going to come under pressure to identify his source within the Tory campaign and, should he refuse, could face the prospect of playing chicken with a judge over the relative importance of protecting one’s source vs contempt of court, a game in, so I am reliably informed, the judge always wins.
Not much else to say at the moment apart from cheers to PP for the heads up and to dedicate this next couple of songs are Jonathan and his, as yet, unnamed source:
And now for a little Magic Sam…