New Forest East



Lymington Times – 16 August 2008

A political rival who reported a New Forest MP to the Police for the way he registered to vote has been blasted by the Chief Constable for wasting officers' time.

Liberal Democrat Terry Scriven – who will contest the New Forest East seat at the next General Election – had complained about a discrepancy in Conservative MP Julian Lewis's habit of using a false name on the electoral roll, to keep secret where he lives for security reasons. But Mr Scriven's action was scorned by Hampshire's top policeman, Paul Kernaghan, who rejected his request for an investigation and said Dr Lewis had acted "in good faith" on the advice of the District Council officer in charge of electoral registration.

Mr Kernaghan wrote to the MP:

"I sincerely hope that [Mr Scriven] will decide to move on, as it is my personal view that this 'complaint' does not enhance our collective respect for democracy and the electoral process. The employment of scarce police resources to investigate whether or not a technical breach of the legislation had taken place would be a total waste of effort and not in the public interest."

Mr Scriven, a retired military policeman, had focused on a change in the law in June 2007 that required Dr Lewis to register [anonymously] by completing a new form and securing the signature of, among other options, the Chief Constable. For many years, Dr Lewis had used a false name under an informal agreement with the District Council and was only made aware of the new legislation just over a year after it came into force. Within days of being advised by the District Council, however, he got the Chief Constable to sign a new form to successfully update his entry.

He welcomed Mr Kernaghan's decision not to investigate but said he was not surprised as he was confident he had acted properly and had the backing of the District Council's Electoral Registration Officer, the Chief Executive Dave Yates. Dr Lewis said:

"I am absolutely furious that everybody's time has been wasted by a malicious complaint that was totally without merit and that has only drawn attention to my arrangements to try to keep my address secure, given the nature of the work that I do."

Mr Scriven reacted:

"I am sure, deep down, Julian Lewis is extremely relieved the Chief Constable has decided not to carry out an investigation into the failure to comply with electoral registration legislation. I still believe that an impartial investigation into this alleged offence would have been in both the public and Julian Lewis's own interest, regardless of how much spin he now places on this incident. In a democratic and free country we rely on everyone being equal under the law, let us hope that continues to be the case."

The latest episode has made the animosity between the two men even more bitter. As reported in the [Lymington Times] in July, Mr Scriven denied Dr Lewis's accusation of leaking his home's location to a Sunday Telegraph journalist campaigning for the publication of MPs' addresses.

* * *

[NOTE: It is typical of Mr Scriven to have made this mischievous and hypocritical complaint to the Police behind the back of Julian Lewis (who learned of it only from the Lymington Times journalist whom Scriven had immediately tipped-off) and then nonsensically to claim – when it was humiliatingly rejected  – that "it would have been ... in Julian Lewis's own interest" if it had gone ahead. It must be a political 'first' for a rival candidate to report an MP to the Police because he thought it was in the MP's own interest to have been subjected to a criminal investigation!

In fact, it is quite unnecessary for Julian to place any "spin" at all on this incident, which speaks for itself: namely, that Scriven's devious and self-serving behaviour didn't fool the Chief Constable for one instant.]

* * *

[For some of Scriven's earlier manoeuvrings, click here. He must have been an incredibly popular Military Policeman ... ]

* * *

[For later developments, click here.]