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Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Tory election candidate charged with electoral fraud

At the time Steven Gillingwater was Slough UKIP Chairman

Report and photographs: Paul Janik
Mr Gillingwater at the 2015 local election

Police announced today they have charged Slough's former UKIP chairman and now Tory election candidate, Steven Gillingwater, with 2 examples of electoral fraud offences.

The astonishing news did not shock local politicians, including UKIP, the Tories and senior Labour officials, who had known for many months of Mr Gillingwater's arrest and questioning by the police.

Non-Labour supporters suggested Thames Valley Police had activated their prosecution of Mr Gillingwater now in a blatant political attempt to damage UKIP's and Conservatives' electoral chances at this year's elections for Labour-dominated Slough Council.

Police state between 26 March and the 9 May 2015:-

  • two fraudulently completed electoral nomination papers were submitted as part of the local government election process at Slough Borough Council offices in Bath Road, Slough
  • Mr Gillingwater on two occasions caused or permitted a false statement to appear in a nomination paper

The Slough Times understands the alleged offences relate to the May 2015 Slough Council elections when Mr Gillingwater was the UKIP chairman and also the UKIP candidate for the Britwell and Northborough ward.

Mr Gillingwater's first court appearance is at Slough Magistrates Court on Monday, 18 April 2016. Although Mr Gillingwater may have to queue for many hours to appear in court, the hearing will be short. The magistrates will announce whether the case against Mr Gillingwater will be heard in a magistrates court by magistrates (or a District Judge) or in a Crown Court by a Judge having much more severe punishment powers.

 

Mr Gillingwater is currently shown on Slough Conservatives' web site sloughconservatives.org.uk/candidates-2016 as their Cippenham Green ward candidate in the forthcoming Slough Council elections.

The Slough Times understands the Tories are likely to replace Mr Gillingwater with a former Liberal councillor David Munkley who is their Britwell & Northborough candidate.

Slough Council elections

Slough Unitary Authority, the official name of Slough Borough Council, has 42 elected councillors. Each of these councillors is elected by the registered voters of one of the 14 electoral areas (commonly called 'wards'). Most Slough wards have 3 councillors. One ward (Colnbrook) has 2 and one (Foxborough) has only 1 councillor.

To contest a councillor vacancy, an intending candidate has to submit an election application consisting of various forms. There is no fee. The most important of these forms is the Nomination Form.

The Nomination Form has to be signed by 10 people who are registered to vote in the ward where the councillor vacancy exists. The purpose of the 10 signatories is they, as eligible voters in the forthcoming election, agree the aspirant candidate can compete in the election.

Eligible voter consent is an old fashioned concept but most of England's electoral laws, especially the gigantic Representative of the People Act 1983 (amended so many times, no one knows how many times) are rewrites of centuries old laws when highway men abounded. The laws are often criticised by judges for being unfit for purpose and reminiscent of the Laws of a Banana Republic.

There are 3 sets of information required from each of the ten registered voters.

  1. The voter's name,
  2. The voter's signature, and
  3. The voter's voter registration number (usually 3 letters followed by 1 to 4 digits: example ABC1234).

Council staff check these details very carefully. If the voter's voter registration number is wrong then the Nomination Form is declared invalid meaning the intending candidate has to get a replacement Nomination Form completed with accurate details.

If the voter is not registered to vote in the election, then their voter registration number will be wrong.

If a voter's name is wrongly spelt, then the Nomination Form is technically invalid. The candidate may be given an opportunity to cross-out the wrong spelling and write the correct spelling adjacent to it.

If the voter's signature is wrong because the voter never signed the Nomination Form it is an offence pursuant to the Perjury Act 1907 section 5. The offender may be punished by a fine, jail or both.