Sadly it appears to be perfectly alright in this country to tell lies about your political opponents as long as the lies are concerned with their political life as opposed to personal matters.
That’s the conclusion I draw from this article
The problems which illuminated this area of law started earlier this year when Iain Hogg split from the Labour Party in Renfrewshire because of ideological differences and decided to stand, against Labour, for the Scottish Socialist Party in local government elections.
The result of the election was very close but Labour eventually won by a handful of votes. Iain Hogg complained that his Labour opponent, a certain Ms Kelly, had printed election leaflet contained lies about his political record and he sought justice in court.
But Sheriff Principal Bruce Kerr has ruled that, because these statements were about how Mr Hogg had behaved as a councillor and were not about his personal life, there was nothing he could do.
He said that the Representation of the People Act only protected candidates if the attacks centred on their personal life, not their political conduct.
This might be something worth remembering for any readers of this blog who are active in politics.
Remember it’s fine to print leaflets saying your opponent can’t be bothered to turn up to vote despite the fact that he or she has a perfect attendance record but please don’t print anything about a halitosis problem which doesn’t exist because that would be contrary to the Representation of the People Act.