Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Has Victoria Atkins Broken the Law? Part 3

I forwarded my information, as set out in Part 1 and Part 2, about Louth & Horncastle's Tory candidate Victoria Atkins's election posters that she had sited at various locations on trunk roads in this Lincolnshire constiuency, to various arms of the press: The Guardian, Huffington Press, The Mirror, The Grimsby Telegraph, The Louth Target and the Louth Leader.

First to rush to print was the Leader.  But, oh dear, they didn't bother with the information I had supplied but just did a little white-wash job with a quote from someone uninformed at the Lincoln County Council Press Office and, would you believe it, Victoria Atkins herself.  Here's what they wrote:

This newspaper received a number of complaints after election signs for parliamentary candidate Victoria Atkins were placed on land at the side of a number of roads throughout the Louth and Horncastle constituency.

But a spokesman for Lincolnshire County Council has confirmed that they have received no complaints of any kind regarding this matter to date and no action will be taken.
Conservative parliamentary candidate, Victoria Atkins said: “I have been made aware of two incidents, both of which people have been vandalising the posters and discarding them onto the road.
“There was also another incident where an enthusiastic supporter had put an election poster up onto a grass verge by the roadside, but as soon as we were made aware of this, it was taken straight down. This was simply an honest mistake.”
At least there can be no doubt that Victoria Atkins knows about the issue now. And let me remind you of the issue. All candidates or their election agents were sent a document from the East Lindsey Electoral Services reminding candidates of their legal obligations and included a document produced by Lincolnshire County Council reminding candidates that


"THE HIGHWAYS AGENCY WILL NOT GIVE CONSENT TO THE SITING OF POSTERS WITHIN THE LIMITS OF TRUNK ROADS. ALL POSTERS WILL BE REMOVED FROM THE TRUNK ROADS."
and reminding them of the law and the risk of prosecution and a fine.

But the Leader article says nothing of this.  No mention whatsoever of the blatant disregard of the criminal law.  If Victoria Atkins had just been ignorant of the law (no excuse) when the posters were originally placed, then she is all too aware now.  But all that has happened is the removal of a poster put by the roadside by 'an enthusiastic supporter'.  The other posters are still there (apart from at least two that the wind ripped from their cable ties on Saturday) standing, illegally, on the verge of trunk roads within the highway's boundaries, testament to the contempt in which the local Conservative Association holds the law.

When I started writing Part 1 of this series, I was happy to give Victoria Atkins the benefit of the doubt, assuming that the posters were put up by a group of enthusiastic supporters who were ignorant of the law.  But we now know that she is endorsing their placement.  There was the possibility that she hadn't bothered reading the candidates instructions and, despite being a barrister, was ignorant of the law in this area.  But today she has been alerted to the problem and still denies to the press any hint that she may be guilty of breaking criminal law.

I am of course, still willing to give the Louth Leader the benefit of the doubt, and assume that the article represents merely a piece of poor journalism, and not a deliberate attempt to paint the Conservatives in a good light rather than expose criminal actions.  I have, of course, set the record straight with the reporter.  She replied:
"I am more than happy to go back to the press office in the morning with your blog posts and explain that you have spoken to the police as well and who specifically you have spoken to and when. I will again ask for confirmation if this matter is intended to be looked into any further by Lincolnshire County Council."

More, perhaps, in Part 4.


3 Comments:

Blogger Biff Vernon said...

I have now heard that:
" All signs through horncastle have been removed. However a large poster has now appeared in the hedgerow near the conningsby round about."

If this is the case everywhere, it may be that the Conservative Association has taken the correct action before prosecution by the Highways Agency.

9:01 pm  
Blogger Biff Vernon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:11 pm  
Blogger Biff Vernon said...

I've just been told that the poster between Partney round-about and Ulceby Cross was still there at 4pm today.

10:12 pm  

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