miss_s_b: (Fanigrling: Rumpole)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Please, please be careful when commenting on Tory Expenses. Tories are generally not shy of litigiousness. Don't libel anyone. But remember this quote from the CPS report, when the inevitable Tory fulmination about being "cleared of any wrongdoing" happens:

Although there is evidence to suggest the returns may have been inaccurate, there is insufficient evidence to prove to the criminal standard that any candidate or agent was dishonest

That is not "cleared of any wrongdoing". You don't generally get "cleared of any wrongdoing" under English criminal law; you either get convicted, or you get "we can't prove you did anything wrong". In the case of this particular offence, the CPS would have to not only prove that you did something wrong (the actus reus element of the offence), but that you knew it was wrong when you were doing it (the mens rea element of the offence). That statement right there is "while we think that some wrong things might have happened, we can't prove beyond reasonable doubt that the individuals concerned knew they were doing something wrong". Note also that this decision only applies to the conduct of individuals; in respect of the party and its overall behaviour, record fines were levied some time ago. You might well think that all of these things are worth bearing in mind when the words "cleared of any wrong-doing" are uttered.

Now, you might also think that what has happened shows up a little legal lacuna. You might even think that the law as it stands is not fit for purpose and needs to be revised, and many experts would agree with you. Sadly, you can't blame the Tories for that being the case. The last Representation of the People Act was passed in 2000. So we can thank our old friend Tony Blair (or whichever of his little minions actually did the drafting) for this. And neither of the two main parties really has any incentive to sort this out properly; electoral law being opaque and difficult and unenforceable benefits both of them.

Anyway, if you want the full text of the CPS statement, click through from this image:



It's an interesting lesson in legal language, if nothing else.

And as I said at the start, if you are disappointed in this decision please be careful about how you express that. Don't libel anybody. And if you want to sort it out, apply pressure to the correct people: whoever is in government after the 8th of June will have the power to change this, if they want to. I suspect they won't want to, but it can't hurt to lobby them.
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