Police investigate distribution of anti-Reform-Jersey leaflets

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Last Wednesday, Deputy Southern successfully retained his seat in St Helier No 2 district. Two other Reform members – Rob Ward and Carina Alves – were also elected and will join him on the Deputy benches.

Deputy Southern said the election of three Reform Jersey candidates in the district was proof Islanders did not want ‘dirty politics’.

The Public Elections Law states that it is a criminal offence to ‘publish a false statement about a person who is a candidate at the election knowing the statement to be untrue’ to influence the vote.

The Deputy added that if the law did not cover the posting of leaflets to attempt to dissuade Islanders from voting for a particular candidate, he would look to bring a proposition to the States to change the law.

Denying the allegations, Deputy Southern said: ‘I firmly believe there has been a breach of the law.

‘What it [the election results] shows is that people don’t want dirty politics. They want to see a fair and free election.

‘The reality is I got elected, as did the other Reform Jersey candidates. The people are saying we want a clean fight.’

He added that he believed the leaflets were posted by someone opposed to Reform Jersey and who had ‘held a simple grudge for 12 years’ against him. The Deputy said that some of the allegations were lies and an attempt to smear his reputation. And he added that even the statements which were true, such as a reference to a 2009 court case in which he admitted breaking the Public Elections Law by helping Islanders to apply for postal votes, only told part of the story.

The politician, who at the time was a member of the Jersey Democratic Alliance, was fined £10,000 by the Royal Court.

Although he admitted the offence, he argued that the law was not compliant with human rights, as it meant disabled and elderly Islanders found it more difficult to cast their vote.

‘I was prosecuted for breaching the election law. As a result of which the law was changed.

‘While paying £10,000 came as a blow, and it is not a way I would recommend anybody to change the law, it did change things for the better,’ he said.

Commenting on the leaflets, he said: ‘If the law doesn’t allow the police to prosecute in this instance, I think it will require a change in law. It has always been my approach that if the law doesn’t work properly, [you] try to amend it.’

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