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Local Elections

Volume 155: debated on Tuesday 20 June 1922

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asked the Home Secretary if he will take steps to amend the Law relating to local elections, so as to prevent vindictive prosecutions for technical breaches of the law, in view of the reference by Mr. Justice McCardie in the case of Nichol v. Fearby and Nichol v. Robinson to the town clerk of Morpeth, to the effect that the town clerk was responsible for action being taken for the purposes of revenge, and in order to effect, if possible, the financial ruin of two reputable and worthy citizens of small means; and if he is aware that the action was due to the town clerk having secured, as stated by Mr. Justice McCardie, a person to claim as common informer £1,400 from two councillors who had failed to send in the proper legal return of their election expenses?

I understand that further proceedings in this case are probable, and while it is still sub judice, I can express no opinion with regard to it.

May I ask the Home Secretary what evidence, if any, Mr. Justice McCardic had for saying that the town clerk of Morpeth was vindictive in the case referred to in the question; and, further, can the Home Secretary institute a full and free inquiry into the whole case at Morpeth?