Aehmed v Afzal and Another: QBD 2 Apr 2008

The claimant candidate in a local government election challenged the election of his opponent as void since was alleged to have conducted a smear campaign.
Held: It was not for the defendant to have to prove the truth of what he said in a campaign leaflet; the comparison with criminal libel was not a good one. The words at issue: ‘must be interpreted bearing in mind that they are used to create a criminal offence. They, therefore, should be interpreted narrowly. Secondly, they have to be interpreted having regard to the fact that they are concerned with speech, which is subject to the European Convention on Human Rights. Third, it ought to be remembered that interpreting them broadly might be thought an inhibition on speech at elections. Fourth, they, nonetheless, have to be given meaning as Parliament plainly considered some speech to fall within the limited inhibition of Section 106. Moreover article 10(2) of the Convention expressly enables free speech to be subject to restrictions or penalties which are prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society for the protection of reputations or rights of others.’

Commissioner Straker QC
[2008] EWHC B5 (QB)
Representation of the People Act 1983 106, European Convention on Human Rights
England and Wales
CitedSunderland Borough Case 1896
A mere argumentative statement as to the conduct of a public man, even though in respect of his private life, is not always, and in many cases certainly not, a breach of election law. . .
CitedCockermouth Division of the County of Cumberland 1901
In construing the validity of statements made during an election, the court distinguished between false statements of fact, affecting personal character or conduct, and false statements of fact, dealing with the political position, reputation or . .
CitedRegina v Rowe, ex parte Mainwaring and Others CA 27-May-1992
An allegation of ‘undue influence’ in an election required proof of both a fraudulent device and some real influence. The court was satisfied that it would not be desirable to have a different standard of proof in different courts on the same issue. . .
CitedThe Wakefield Case XVII 1874
The court considered who was an agent in election law: ‘By election law the doctrine of agency is carried further than in other cases. By the ordinary law of agency a person is not responsible for the acts of those whom he has not authorised, or . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Elections, Human Rights

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.270291