Posted by: iangilbert | April 25, 2012

UKIP smear

Some polls suggest that UKIP might do quite well in the forthcoming elections. Quite why a party who’s only real policy is to withdraw from the EU is contesting local elections is a question that I continually ask myself, but anyway… I was sad to read that James Moyies of UKIP has been smearing a Labour candidate.

Mr Moyies has said that Gray Sergeant is ‘away at university for most of the year’. Tony Cox (whom I may disagree vehemently with but I generally respect for his honesty) has uploaded the offending letter. This claim is simply not true.

It is true that Gray is studying a degree at the London School of Economics. However he is living full-time in West Shoebury, so would actually find it easier to represent his constituents than many people who have to do a full time job. Ironically you can see from the statement of persons nominated that Mr Moyies is a near neighbour to Gray.

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but if I’m going to criticise someone I make doubly sure I get my facts right. Mr Moyies’s statement is uncomfortably close to making a false statement about a rival candidate in an election campaign, an illegal practice under section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. I believe there is case law to suggest that claims about candidates’ living arrangement are indeed actionable, so maybe Mr Moyies might consider an apology.

With the Conservative vote fracturing as bad news piles on bad news, and Gray running a strong campaign, the West Shoebury result may be closer than people expect…



  1. The term ‘away…’ can mean any number of things so unless you have got your ‘head in the clouds..’ I don’t think I would go down the litigation route.


  2. I think ‘away at university for most of the year’ has a very clear meaning. The test how a reasonable person would interpret it.

    You would not say that a working man or woman was ‘away at their job for most of the year’ if they were actually living at home and working 9-5, so why say it of someone studying a degree?

    It’s not an enormous issue unless the election proves to be very tight, but I think an apology would be nice.

  3. 3 days a week for 20 weeks a year is less than a full time job! Gray would have more time, not less.

  4. A university student who is ‘mentally away’ thinking about Economic Models, getting to grips with the mathematics that undepin these models and the statistical analysis required to interpret their predictions hardly has time to spend his weekends worrying about issues such as the route of the number 9 bus or whether a doggy bin is located in the correct location.

  5. Worst attempt at justification I’ve ever heard, by that argument nobody with a demanding job could be a councillor. I’m starting to wonder just who’s ‘mentally away’ here.

    The question is how a reasonable person would interpret the statement ‘away at university for most of the year’.

  6. Jim, that is ridiculous and you know it. Basically UKIP saw the word student and assumed Gray lived away, not thinking to check whether it was true. It is not true so an apology should be issued.

  7. I gather from Julian’s blog that James Moyies has now actually apologised and corrected his mistake – well done him!

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