SCRIVEN – A SLY COMPLAINT FAILS
'CHIEF CONSTABLE SCORNS CALL FOR MP INVESTIGATION'
[Extract from the 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 with a false name 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."
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TEXT OF LETTER FROM THE CHIEF CONSTABLE OF HAMPSHIRE TO JULIAN LEWIS MP – 8 August 2008
Dear Dr Lewis
Your letter dated 4/8/08 refers.
I am grateful for the additional information you provided and in particular the letter from Mr Yates, Electoral Registration Officer.
I do not intend to make any pro-active public comment on this matter, in that I take the view that complaints to the police should be treated as confidential matters. Though I note Colonel (Retd) Scriven decided to make his complaint a matter of public knowledge. On that basis I feel it is appropriate that I share my response to him with you. I sincerely hope that he will decide to move on, as it is my personal view that his 'complaint' does not enhance our collective respect for democracy and the electoral process.
You have acted in good faith and sought to comply with contemporary legislation immediately you were advised on it by the Electoral Registration Officer. 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.
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TEXT OF LETTER FROM THE CHIEF CONSTABLE OF HAMPSHIRE TO TERRY SCRIVEN – 8 August 2008
Dear Colonel Scriven
Your email dated 7/8/08 and original letter dated 24/7/08 refer.
I have considered your concerns in relation to the electoral registration of Dr Julian Lewis MP. On the basis that I am satisfied that Dr Lewis acted in strict accordance with the advice received over the years from the relevant Electoral Registration Officer(s) and has, in addition, openly advertised his actions in the columns of Hansard (22/5/08), I do not intend to allocate police resources to investigate this matter further.
The current Electoral Registration Officer has stated that Dr Lewis acted in complete good faith on all occasions and I am unaware of any evidence to the contrary.
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