Home > Election > What is the basis of Huhne’s threat of legal action

What is the basis of Huhne’s threat of legal action

When Chris Huhne threatened to take the No to AV Campaign to court for making false statements, I wondered on what basis he was planning to bring the legal action. There are legal controls in other elections prohibiting false statements of fact about the personal character of a candidate (this was the basis of the Phil Woolas case last year), but this does not apply in referendum campaigns for fairly obvious reasons. The BBC seems to confirm my initial reaction, with the Electoral Commission stating that they have no authority to investigate a false statement in a referendum campaign. Huhne’s main remedy is then in the court of public opinion – he has to persuade the electorate of the falsity the No Campaign’s arguments.

So it looks like the threat of legal action is a false alarm – but it has succeeded in putting the issue up in the news agenda and forcing the No Campaign on the defensive (with William Hague, for example, stating that some of the claims made about AV are just statements of opinion rather than fact). It also puts a bit of clear water between the Tories and Lib Dems. So Huhne’s remarks may prove to be a strategic move.

Categories: Election
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