11 January 2013

Another triumph for the Procurator Fiscal Service...

65 Tampering with nomination papers, ballot papers, etc.
(2) In Scotland, a person shall be guilty of an offence if—
(a) at a parliamentary or local government election, he forges any nomination paper, delivers to the returning officer any nomination paper knowing it to be forged, or forges or counterfeits any ballot paper or the official mark on any ballot paper; or
(b) at a local government election, he signs any nomination paper as candidate or in any other capacity certifies the truth of any statement contained in it, knowing such statement to be false; or
(c) he fraudulently or without due authority, as the case may be, attempts to do any of the foregoing acts.


  1. According to the BBC website the prosecution was under section 65A of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (False statements in nomination papers etc.) - which was inserted by the Electoral Administration Act 2006.

    Unfortuntatly for the Procurator Fiscal the correct section would have been section 65B of the 1983 Act (Scottish local government elections: false information in nomination papers etc.) This was inserted by the Local Electoral Administration and Registration Services Act 2006.

    Offences under the 1983 Act generally have to be prosecuted with a year of the offence - so still time if the PF wants to try again.

  2. A legal error in a post about legal errors: what happy serendipity! Of course you are quite right Anonymous. Have tweaked the text to reflect the BBC report.

  3. Whatever the legal inadequacies of the PF (and presumably the City Council electoral officers who set in train this prosecution and profess to have some knowledge of these matters), it is difficult to see how this prosecution on these facts could ever have been in the public interest ... "Helena Torry". I very much doubt that Rainbow City Taxis would have accepted a cab booking in that name.

  4. Ha! Do you think so? On those criteria, Mr Langley may not get that wee taxi job after all. "Ten o'clock Cab for Jock Pollokshields and Iris Hillhead."

    While it was hardly the crime of the century, and hardly merits serious punishment, but if I was the PF making the decision, I'd probably take the view that the public interest was served by summary proceedings. The purpose of the 1983 Act may be to root out and penalise corrupt behaviour in local elections, and Slater's intentions clearly weren't along those lines, but the expected standards of truthiness in the electoral process were clearly flouted.

  5. I don't know if it is the same in Scotland, but if this happened in England, and two days of evidence had already been heard (as the BBC report says), if the court had agreed they would surely have substituted another charge? I think there was an unsympathetic sheriff. Plus why were those two days of evidence heard? If the defence noticed the mistake early in proceedings, a point of law at the very beginning of the case would surely have been taken. Hm.

  6. Well it was a case about electoral law and dummies...

  7. Perhaps they should have read "Electoral Law For Dummies" first. Hoho.

  8. Surely - this being Aberdeen - the dummy was taken as 'Mannie Kin'?

    I'll get me bunnet. . .

  9. Problematicon,

    My knowledge of criminal procedure isn't as complete as it might be, and I'm sure there are folk on here who can set me right if I miscarry - but as you say, you would generally expect a plea as to the relevancy of the complaint to be made at the beginning of the trial. The press reports indicate that the case only fell through with a "no case to answer" motion (under s97 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995), which only occur after the prosecution had completed their case but before the defence had embarked on theirs, although such motions generally concern sufficiency of evidence, rather than the competence of the charges as drafted.

  10. Stuart, Edwin,

    I'm pretty sure that sort of patter must be illegal. Just you wait there, while I fetch my statues and phone the polis...