IF violinist Nigel Kennedy has been worrying about what he may or may not have said to The Guardian in an interview last weekend, he can stop right now. The police called in by Conservatives to investigate his comment that he had allowed a friend to use his wife’s voting card to vote for Glenda Jackson will go no further than writing him an advisory letter.
Officers say if a case was going to be brought – and this is the language of potentials and not a comment on whether Kennedy is actually guilty of anything – it would needed to have stemmed from a complaint within the 12 months that followed the 2010 election.
It’s an interesting position: what if evidence, completely hypothetically here, came to light three years after the ballot that somebody somewhere had scammed not just one vote but a whole batch of them. Remember the constituency was only decided by 42 votes. Would the police still be hamstrung by time limits if the result of the election had been affected? It sounds like any genuine crooks would just have to lie low for a year.
Below is the letter, police have sent to beaten Conservative candidate Chris Philp (pictured above with George Osborne) today explaining their stance in relation to his real life complaint about Kennedy’s quotes:
Dear Mr Philp,
Further to our phone call I agreed to put something in writing with regard to the allegation concerning Mr Nigel Kennedy. The matter had been passed to me as my unit are the single point of contact for election offences within London. We have reviewed your allegation and researched the relevant media reporting. I have also spoken to the CPS and the Electoral Commission about this matter.
You are correct in that Section 60 of the Representation of the Peoples Act (RPA) 1983 is the appropriate piece of legislation. It is an offence for a person to vote purporting to be another, known as personation, and it is also an offence to aid or abet personation. However, Section 176 of the RPA imposes a time limit on bringing prosecutions under this legislation of 12 months (extendable by another 12 months should an investigation have been commenced). The potential offence in this case would be outside of this time limit. For this reason the Metropolitan Police will be taking no further investigative action in this matter. For your information we have written to Mr Kennedy drawing his attention to the legislation and the offences it creates.
I will get back to you in respect of your other question regarding foreign national voting.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should I be able to be of further assistance.
DS Neil Smithson