Help us beat the undemocratic and out of control Electoral Commission in the Court of Appeal!
The Electoral Commission has been misusing its position and (without any specific legal power) has been removing registered party details and also even registered parties from its register of parties. We are trying to get the Court of Appeal to rule that the Electoral Commission has acted outside its powers.
Tilbrook’s Solicitors will be acting in the case. Taking the case to the Court of Appeal will cost up to £50,000. We are therefore asking for your help to bring this important case which will bring the Electoral Commission Appeal to heel and make them focus only on doing what the law says they can and not what they politically want to do. So not to intervene with parties and causes which they do not like. This is why they have not only acted the way they have in this case and in the cases where they have de-registered existing political parties, but also in their outrageous behaviour against Vote Leave’s campaigners.
Please help all you can!
Here is our legal argument:-
- The Electoral Commission has no explicit statutory power to remove existing registered details but it has been using Section 23 (1)(a) and (b) of the Act to remove on its own motion registered details of political parties, including, in this particular case, registered “Descriptions” to go on the ballot paper during elections. Also in the previous case brought by the English Democrats for which permission to Judicial Review was granted (that case was not proceeded with by consent), a registered “Emblem”. Also in the case of both the Tea Party and the Beer Baccy and Crumpet Party (and perhaps other parties), the Electoral Commission has even deregistered existing registered parties, contrary to Section 33 which prohibits deregulation. This means that the Electoral Commission has breached Section 33 in reliance upon Section 23.
- Given the stated purpose of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 was not to regulate parties as that would be an aim that clearly would be in conflict with basic tenets of democracy which the People get to decide who they elect and it is not the bureaucracy deciding who they are allowed to elect. This does raise a matter of potentially grave importance and of potential threat to democracy in England.
It is worth noting in the words of the Conservative Member of the European Parliament, and well known political commentator, Daniel Hannan MEP writing about Western European “cartel democracies”, he commented that the ruling parties have used legal and financial barriers to prevent newcomers from breaking through.
He wrote:- “The cartel parties were quite flagrant in their attempts to stop newcomers from posing a challenge. In Belgium, for example, restrictions on private donations made parties dependent on state funding – which was then withdrawn from the Flemish separatists following a parliamentary vote by their rivals.”
- The Judgement of Mr Justice Supperstone dated 14th February 2017 herein is referred to.
- Section 23 is, in the Appellant’s Submission, a clause whose primary purpose arose in the creation of the Electoral Commission as an organisation to take over the wider terms of reference to take over the registration of political party names, the history of which is well set out in Mr Justice Supperstone’s Judgment. It is in the context of the creation of the Register that the clause should be seen enabling the then new Commission to set up the Registers in the format that it thought best, but in the Appellant’s submission the “Form” of the Registers was never meant to include the contents of the Registers, i.e. the information or details or Emblem or Descriptions registered in the Registers any more than the Civil Procedure Rules Green Book which now has an entire volume of “Court Forms”, could be taken to be specifying the exact details which are to go into each of these “Forms”.
- While the whole Order is appealed on the basis that the learned Judge is wrong on the vires point. So far as the rest of the merits of the Judicial Review is concerned, although the Appellant does not think the court reached the right view, the Appellant does not think that the other aspects of the Judgment are clearly appealable.
- During argument it became clear that there was only one clause (Section 23) which the Defendant was relying upon to give it legal authority to make the decision that it had made. It is therefore the interpretation of that clause that is critical. In order to justify this decision the Learned Judge has had to strain the normal English language meanings of the words “Maintain” and “Form”.
- In order to reach the conclusion that the Defendant has a power to remove existing registrations the court has had to stretch the meaning of ‘Maintained’ and of ‘Maintaining’ as set out in Section 23 (1)(a) and (b) of the Act.
- In any normal meaning of the word ‘maintained’ it does not encompass making substantive changes. The court is respectfully referred to the Oxford English Dictionary definition which was handed up at trial. For ease of reference this is set out:-
Definition of “Maintain” in English:
1 Cause or enable (a condition or situation) to continue.
‘the need to maintain close links between industry and schools’
1.1 Keep (something) at the same level or rate.
‘agricultural prices will have to be maintained’
1.2 Keep (a building, machine, or road) in good condition by checking or repairing it regularly.
‘the Department for Transport is responsible for maintaining the main roads in England’
Likewise the court has extended the meaning of the word ‘Form’ where in 23 (1)(b) the statute directs the Electoral Commission that the registers “shall be so maintained in such form as the Commission may determine”. ‘Form’ is not word which encompasses the substantive content of, in this case, a register.
The Civil Procedure Rules “Claim Form” under CPR 7 frames the look of the document but does not extend to the content, or in any forms in the volume of court forms which form part of the Green Book.
Thus the Description that was removed was not a question of ‘form’ but of ‘substance’. It is respectfully submitted that it is wrong therefore to confute ‘form’ and ‘substance’. The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘Form’ as:-
- In the circumstances if the normal meanings of these words were applied it is clear that the Defendant would not have authority to make the kind of decisions that it has been making to remove existing registrations within its registers. The Appellant’s case should therefore have succeeded on this straightforward question of interpretation and the Judgment herein is therefore wrong and should be set aside.