The Electoral Commission have launched their guides for Candidates and Agents in the Police and Crime Commissioner election – required reading, but it has only just happened, so don’t expect me to have a comprehensive knowledge just yet.
One thing did catch my eye though. The first guide has the functional title of ‘Can you stand for election?‘, so I rapidly clicked my way to the bit that talks about imprisonable offences – not much new there, except this :- “The draft Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions)(Amendment)(England and Wales) Order 2012 allows for spent convictions to be grounds for disqualification. While the Order had not been made by the time this guidance was published, we expect it to be in place in time for the first Police and Crime Commissioner election on 15 November 2012.” Now, I’ve checked, and it looks innocent enough – merely clarifying that returning officers can ask about ‘spent’ convictions, and candidates have to ‘fess up to them.
However, if Michael Crick is right about Dominic Grieve, and numerous government figures being relaxed about Simon Weston being able to stand, will this piece of secondary legislation be amended to give a route for the issue to be addressed – a sort of “get out of having-once-been-at-risk-of-jail” card?
I know this is speculation – but that’s what you get when you leave these big questions hanging in the air, and as the guide ends by pointing out the threat of prosecution for making false statements about disqualifications to the Returning Officer, and then adds “The Police Area Returning Officer may not be able to confirm whether or not you are disqualified”, one wonders if we really are leaving finality on this to the courts.