Labour candidate did not break law by handing out brownies, say police

Tories had reported West Yorkshire mayoral candidate Tracy Brabin for potential electoral law breach

Police have confirmed that the Labour candidate for mayor of West Yorkshire did not break electoral law by handing out brownies while campaigning.

West Yorkshire police had been looking into the allegations against the Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin after the Conservatives reported her for a potential breach of electoral law.

The Tories had accused her of “treating”, an offence under the Representation of the People Act 1983.

The legislation states that a person is “guilty of treating if either before, during or after an election or referendum they directly or indirectly give or provide (or pay wholly or in part the expense of giving or providing) any food, drink, entertainment or provision in order to influence any voter to vote or refrain from voting”.

Pictures of the brownies in boxes marked “vote Labour” were posted to Twitter by Kerron Cross, the Labour and Co-operative candidate for Knottingley and Ferrybridge, prompting questions about whether Brabin’s generosity represented a contravention of electoral law.

However, it is understood that the treats were only given to party members after canvassing – which is not against the rules.

A police spokesperson said: “West Yorkshire police can confirm that after an investigation following the circulation of social media posts and a direct complaint re electoral matters that no offences have been recorded.”

Brabin, a former Coronation Street actor, is one of seven candidates in the West Yorkshire mayoral election on 6 May.

If elected, Brabin would become the UK’s first female mayor of a combined authority.

• This article was amended on 5 May 2021. An earlier version said that the West Yorkshire mayoral election was originally slated for May 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. In fact that election was always planned for May 2021.


Contributor

Alex Mistlin

The GuardianTramp

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