Kerry McCarthy MP cautioned for illegally revealing postal vote results on Twitter

Screenshot of Kerry McCarthy's illegal tweet, retweetedKerry McCarthy, the Labour MP who illegally revealed postal vote results on Twitter in April, has been given a police caution.

Labour’s “Twitter Tsar” and a qualified solicitor, has avoided a fine or a six month prison sentence for the offence. She deleted her original post after a few minutes, but not before it had been spread around the internet.

From the Guardian:

She boasted to thousands of followers that an early batch showed Labour receiving far more support in her constituency than the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats – providing figures to back up her claim.

But after a string of replies pointing out that it was against the law to disclose general election results before the final 6 May count, McCarthy removed the post, admitting she had been “thoughtless”.

Section 66 of the 1983 Representation of the People Act forbids “any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election” before polls close.

The maximum punishment for breaking the law is six months imprisonment or a fine of £5,000. But it was disclosed today that the shadow Treasury minister had accepted a police caution.

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2 Comments

  • I don’t understand this case. Firstly, I don’t understand how an experienced politician can be “thoughtless” like this. Secondly, I don’t understand how McCarthy was merely given a caution. And lastly, I don’t understand what this means for the future of this offence – I can forsee plenty of occasions when a less-than-moral candidate / agent / campaigner might decide that it’s worth taking a caution for the electoral advantage of spreading this information.

    At the risk of being whinging and priggish, I really hate that this sort of offence is treated so lightly. I have reported a case where another party has printed and distributed leaflets with the Lib Dem imprint. But the nice detective who took my statement said it wasn’t high priority as it was “only imprint law”. I believe the same team committed many other minor electoral infringements over that and 3 other general elections and plenty more local elections. On another occasion, another party was bang to rights on some pretty substantial postal ballot fraud. I believe that the police had ample evidence – down to fingerprints. Yet it was deemed “not in the public interest” to prosecute.

    Each time they get away with these minor infringements, and each time they are encouraged to get dirtier and dirtier.

    I do not discount there being some dodgy Lib Dems out there – it’s a big party – but I have not seen it, or I would have taken action. I think that this sort of thing really does need to be stamped on,

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