Do you need elected candidates to be whiter than white?

Electoral Fraud Can Happen In Many Different Ways: Do you need elected candidates to be whiter than white?  

In politics, dirty tactics and smear campaigns are often the path to victory and you can see why an increasing number of parties and people take to this sort of action and behaviour. In an ideal world, all political candidates would be able to battle it out on their policies and what they can do for a community or the population, but this is not the way of modern politics. The media has a lot to do with this and of course social media has provided an added layer of intrigue to the personal life and behaviour of our represented people, but all in all, life can be a bit depressing when there is so much muck being thrown about.


However, this is the way of the modern political world and even the UK General Election is occupying the thoughts of most people in the country at the moment, there are other political battles being waged. There is currently a race to become mayor of Middlesbrough and it seems as though one of the mayoral candidates is facing accusations of electoral fraud. It seems as though Andy Preston has been accused of claiming to live in his mother’s home, a semi-detached which most people would claim to be quite modest. There is nothing wrong with living in that sort of home but it appears as though Preston actually lives in a house, a very big house in the country, in the words of Blur. Preston is said to live in Otterington Hall, a £1.7m country estate which is 30 miles from the stated address he gave, in Acklam, when submitting his candidacy to become the next mayor of Middlesbrough. The house of his mother is said to be valued at around £150,000 which is clearly a massive difference to the value of what is believed to be his actual home.


Police officers are looking into claims


It is believed that three different reports of election malpractice have been labelled against Preston and the matter is now in the hands of police officers from Cleveland. Usually you struggle to get politicians making any form of comment about their private life but Preston has taken to social media to defend himself against the allegations, although there was certainly no denial of the claims. He said; “My professional and financial success has allowed me to have a nice home in North Yorkshire. They say it is a breach of rules. To me and my siblings that's still our family home. I also didn't want to publish where my wife and kids are for fear of attracting further security worries and breaches of privacy'.”


Unsurprisingly, a rival has also get involved with comments, with Dave Roberts saying; “It is absolutely right that the police should investigate any concerns or allegations about candidates conduct. It is the least that the people of Middlesbrough deserve. Middlesbrough voters could easily believe that Andy Preston actually lives in Middlesbrough itself when he really lives in Otterington Hall, a country mansion in South Otterington, in North Yorkshire.'


The Council is hoping for the police to decide what to do first


The Council have stated that they aware of the allegations that have been made but are prepared to wait until the police conclude their investigation before deciding upon any action. The Council released a statement saying; “Alleged breaches of legislative requirements or of electoral malpractice by candidates in any election administered by the Council are dealt with by the Police and processes are in place to ensure that all complaints of this nature are passed on.”


While some people will feel that where a candidate lives isn’t really that much of an issue, the Representation of the People Act of 1983, states that it is illegal to provide false information to a registration officer and if proven, the crime carries a punishment of 6 months in prison. There is no actual requirement for the Mayor of Middlesbrough to live in Middlesbrough so the location of the property isn’t the issue, merely the fact that the truth wasn’t told on the application. This means  that a defence solicitor would have a number of areas they could focus their case on, but in terms of black and white readings of the law, it would appear that the complaints are factual, they just may not be too important.


Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn't sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.