Hackney Council misinforms voters: “No Conservative candidate for Mayor”

Andrew Boff, London Assembly Member and Conservative candidate for Mayor of Hackney

Andrew Boff, London Assembly Member and Conservative candidate for Mayor of Hackney

Hackney Council has been telling callers that there is no Conservative candidate standing for mayor of Hackney in the forthcoming elections this Thursday, 6 May.

The candidate himself Andrew Boff received a couple of emails from concerned residents who told him that Hackney Council’s call centre staff had told them that there was no Conservative candidate for Hackney mayor.

Mr Boff the phoned the council as an anonymous caller to hear what enquirers were being told. Mr Boff said, “The council call centre staff member went to talk to the election office staff to get advice and at the end confirmed that I am not standing.

“Not happy with banning my election address for mentioning how much the Mayor and Cabinet are paid, the resources of the Council are now being used to peddle mis-truths, telling people that they can’t vote for me.”

Listen to the phone conversation here (edited version): or here (full version, approx 9 minutes).

Hackney Council has been asked to comment.

Update: Hackney Council responded 6.15pm Tuesday 4 May.

Belinda Black, Director of Customer and Corporate Services, said, “I apologise for the incorrect information that Mr Boff was given when he called our contact centre. There has been no attempt on the part of the Council or any of its officers to conceal the fact that Mr Boff is a candidate in this election.

“Mr Boff’s candidacy has been listed in the mayoral booklet that has gone to every elector, and in the list of candidates on Council’s website, on the Notice of Mayoral election and in Hackney Today.

“The exclusion of Mr Boff’s election address from the booklet was a complicated legal issue, and though the staff member gave the correct information at first, unfortunately as Mr Boff persisted in asking the staff member to say whether or not he was a candidate, the incorrect response was given as this was a technical issue beyond the knowledge of the staff member.”

Mr Boff responded, “How many calls did the Council receive about my exclusion from the booklet before they started reading from the script introduced after my complaint?

“I am now worried about how impartial the election will be on Thursday. I would urge voters to make sure that their votes are being properly registered and that a thorough checking of postal votes takes place.”

Copies of some of the emails Mr Boff received: 04/05/10 Hi Andrew, My wife called the above number which is on the Hackney Government Mayor Candidate election brochure which was sent to all houses in Hackney and has a two page comment from each Candidate for Mayor. She asked why the Conservative Party wasn’t listed / didn’t have a comment page like the other parties. XXXX1 at Hackney Government who answered the phone said that it is because the Conservative party candidate for Mayor didn’t meet the qualification criteria and so wasn’t eligible to run for Mayor. My wife pointed out that you are on the ballot paper, to which the man said that this was a development that came up after the ballot paper was sent which is why you are included on the ballot but not in the booklet. He also said the Christian party didn’t qualify either.

29/04/10 Dear XXXX5 I have just received a leaflet from Hackney Council with a two page spread on every political party except the Conservatives. At the front it says that Andrew Boff is standing in the Mayoral Election but he is not given any coverage in the leaflet. I called Hackney Council to complain and was told that the Conservatives are not fielding a candidate and hence why there was no detail on them in the leaflet and even though on the front page it says that Andrew Boff is standing. The reason give was that the Conservatives did not meet certain statuary [sic] and legal obligations in submitting a candidate? This all sounds like complete nonsense to me and with such a short time to go until polling day I am deeply concerned. I have just also alerted CCHQ to the situation and they have said they will also look into it but I just checked my e-mails and remembered you are the local contact and so might like to know. Regards XXXX6

Candidates for the Hackney mayoral election 2010 – the full list of valid nominations .

Previous story here: Hackney Council rejects mayoral candidate’s election address.

Follow up story here: Council threatens Hackney Citizen with legal action