Last month the SKWAWKBOX reported that Theresa May had been reported to the police over her dishonest comments about Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott during the televised leadership Q&A where she appeared on the same show as, but did not debate, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The Metropolitan Police Service said it was taking the allegations ‘very seriously’.
May told the audience that Abbott wanted:
wipe the details of criminals and terrorists from the UK DNA Database. That means we could catch fewer criminals and fewer terrorists.
This was simply untrue, Abbott had never mentioned any such thing – her plans regarding police DNA databases involved removing the details of innocent people from the database to prevent discrimination, as black and ethnic people are disproportionately affected.
Making false statements about a candidate during an election period is a criminal offence under the Representation of the People Act:
Were May to be found guilty, she could have faced the loss of her parliamentary seat and a ban from public office – which would of course mean her removal from office.
The complaint was made by Paul Cardin, who writes the excellent Wirral in it Together blog and he has updated his blog with a response received from the Metropolitan Police:
Another Tory avoids prosecution. But is the decision correct in law? The Met is arguably right about May’s false statements concerning Abbott’s political, rather than personal, conduct. However, conduct is not the only issue mentioned by the RPA.
Character is as well. Yet the Met skip over that aspect.
Surely few could argue that claiming falsely that Ms Abbott wants to make it easier for criminals to commit crimes and for terrorists to kill people says nothing about her character. Of course, it’s a direct attack on her character, because it which decent person would want to get more people killed?
And of course, Diane Abbott did not do what May claimed.
In the opinion of this blog, Theresa May has been let off the hook by the Met’s decision to focus only on the ‘conduct’ aspect of the RPA and ignoring the equally valid ‘character’ consideration.
For more detail of the response and Cardin’s excellent commentary on what this decision means for political integrity and discourse in this country, we recommend you read his full article.
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