Fergus Wilson – my complaint to the Returning Officer

It is reported today that Fergus Wilson has gone ahead with his application for Judicial Review of the Returning Officer’s decision to reject his nomination. As we have seen, his application seems doomed to fail: what he really wants is an injunction to protect himself from the consequences of his own incompetence.

More importantly, it is an affront to the democratic process that Mr Wilson has gone to law to seek to stand in an election from which his assault conviction specifically disqualifies him. I consider it proper, therefore, to report him to the Returning Officer for the Corrupt Practice of making a false declaration that he is not disqualified from standing. The text of my complaint is set out below.

Mr Nadeem Aziz

Police Area Returning Officer for Kent

 

Dear Mr Aziz,

Police and Crime Commissioner Election – Candidacy of Mr Fergus Glen Wilson

I see from the Statement of Persons Nominated that Mr Fergus Wilson submitted a nomination as a candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner election. It follows that Mr Wilson must have signed a Candidate’s Consent to Nomination.

As you know it is a Corrupt Practice for a candidate to make a false statement as to his eligibility to stand (contrary to the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections Order 2012). Section 66(3)(c) of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 disqualifies from holding the office of PCC any person who has been convicted of an imprisonable offence, regardless of whether that person was actually imprisoned. An imprisonable offence is defined as an offence for which a person over the age of 18 could have been imprisoned, and is not limited to terms of imprisonment over a certain length. Further, a candidate is to be considered as having been convicted if the time ordinarily allowed for appeal has passed and no appeal has been made, or if an appeal is made and has been dismissed.

On or about 12th April 2014 Mr Wilson was convicted at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court of Common Assault, having assaulted a Mr Daniel Wells. An appeal against that conviction was dismissed at Canterbury Crown Court in August of that year. The maximum penalty for Common Assault is six months imprisonment: see the Criminal Justice Act 1988, s.39. It follows that it is an imprisonable offence as defined by the 2011 Act, and that conviction for that offence disqualifies Mr Wilson from holding the office of Police and Crime Commissioner.

Mr Wilson must be aware of his conviction as he has appealed against it. Given that an appeal has been made and been dismissed, Mr Wilson is to be considered as having been convicted. Media reports suggest that Mr Wilson intends to make, or has already made, an application for permission to make a further appeal. At best Mr Wilson has made an application for leave to make a further appeal, far out of time. There is no provision in the Act for such an application to render a disqualified candidate temporarily qualified.

It follows that Mr Wilson’s declaration that he was not disqualified was false, and that in making it he committed a Corrupt Practice contrary to the 2012 rules.

I understand that Mr Wilson’s nomination was rejected by you on other grounds, but nevertheless the offence was complete when he made the declaration. Mr Wilson has applied for leave to appeal for judicial review of your decision; however unlikely he is to succeed it is an affront to the democratic process that he has chosen to do so. Parliament has specifically required candidates for Police and Crime Commissioner to uphold the highest standards of probity.

I consider it to be my civic duty, therefore, to report Mr Wilson to you for this offence, and ask you to pass my report onto the Police for investigation.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Patience

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