Published on 30 Oct 2012

Probe Michael Mates over alleged ‘fraud’, rival urges Hants police

An independent candidate for police commissioner in Hampshire today asked the local chief constable to investigate whether Michael Mates, the rival Conservative candidate in next month’s PCC election, has committed what he claims is “fraud”.Don Jerrard, a former City lawyer who is standing as “justice and anti-corruption” candidate in the election in Hampshire, has written to Alex Marshall, the chief constable of the area, and accused Mr Mates of breaching the 2006 Fraud Act by adding his name to the electoral register at a house in Winchester, Hampshire. 

Jerrard claims Mr Mates wasn’t properly resident at the address in the way required by law.

 
All candidates for the PCC posts have to be resident in the areas in which they are seeking election.  These rules are much tougher than for parliamentary elections, where there are no residency requirements.  Mr Mates insists that he is eligible to stand in the Hampshire contest.
 
The episode raises fascinating constitutional issues, as the role of the new police and crime commissioners is to oversee the work of the local chief constable. 

So the Hampshire chief constable is being asked by Don Jerrard to investigate the activities of a man who may soon himself be overseeing his work, and could soon have the power to sack Mr Marshall or his successor (Mr Marshall is due to leave his post in the next few months to run the new National College of Policing).  
 
Until recently, and for many years during his time as a Hampshire MP, Michael Mates was actually on the electoral register at his home near Chichester, in the neighbouring county of West Sussex.  

In April of this year Mates and his wife switched their registration from West Sussex to a house in Winchester which is owned by a retired businessmen, Andrew Tibbits, and his wife.   
 
In his letter to the chief constable Jerrard alleges Michael Mates”made a false representation on 24 April 2012 by implying that he had moved to an address in Winchester so that he could be on the electoral roll in Hampshire in order to satisfy one of the requirements to be a candidate. 

He adds: “In my opinion that will constitute an offence under section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006.”
 
Don Jerrard is a retired London partner with Baker & Mackenzie, one of the world’s biggest law firms.  Mr Jerrard alleges in his letter:
 
“In an attempt to comply with the requirement that he should be on the electoral roll in Hampshire Mr Mates entered into an arrangement with a married couple that Mr and Mrs Mates might rent some rooms in their large house in Winchester. 

“I was told that this couple have sometimes let these rooms out to students studying in Winchester. 

“On that basis Mr and Mrs Mates applied to go onto the electoral roll in Winchester, and to be taken off the electoral roll in Chichester.  However, none of the neighbours of the house in Winchester report ever having seen Mr Mates and in practice he has continued to live at his house in West Sussex.”
 
Gerrard continues:
 
“I believe that Mr Mates has dishonestly made a false representation by saying that he had moved to and was resident at the house in Winchester, intending, by making the representation, to make a gain for himself, by being a candidate for a job paying £85,000 per annum, and also causing loss to another potential candidate.”
 
Mr Jerrard has asked the chief constable to appoint a senior investigating officer to meet him in order to examine the matter further.
 
A spokeswoman for Hampshire police told me this evening: “If, or when, we do see the letter we will take a look at the contents and take appropriate action which may or may not include referring it to the police area returning officer [PARO] who overseas the police and crime commissioner election. 

“Should a police investigation be required we have arrangements in place with neighbouring police forces.”
 
A spokesman for Michael Mates, who  denies any wrongdoing, told me tonight: “The Police Area Returning Officer for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Mark Heath, and the local electoral registration officer in Winchester have both confirmed Michael Mates’s eligibility for this election.”
 
In September a friend of Michael Mates told the Sunday Express:
 
“He has a tenancy arrangement with Mr Tibbits whom he hadn’t met before. That’s where he is more and more now because he is flat-out trying to get himself elected.”
 
When asked last month by the Sunday Express about how often Mr Mates was at the Winchester address, his friend reportedly replied: “It varies… he comes and goes as one does when one’s busy.  He tends to arrive late in the evening, having done meetings and the things one does in an election, and tends to leave after an early breakfast.”

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22 reader comments

  1. Yorkshire Lass says:

    Saw some PCC election posters in our neighbouring county of Cumbria. The Lib-Dem candidate has had her posters printed on red paper, not yellow. More from the dirty tricks brigade.

  2. Rose Bowl says:

    Err……Mates is eligible. The details in this article says so. And so does the Returning Officer. Legal, above board, kosher.

    Did his opponent read the whole article or is he just not listening? Sounds like a hatchet job and nasty politics that doesn’t deserve breathing space on a grown-up blog post like this one.

    1. Philip says:

      Err….Mates is eligible (a) because he says so and (b) because the returning officer believes he lives in this house in Winchester. If he doesn’t, but is using it purely for convenience & isn’t resident in Hampshire, he isn’t eligible. That’s what the article says.
      If what Jerrard says is true, this isn’t a hatchet job and he’d be pretty stupid to raise it if there wasn’t some element of truth in it.

  3. Amused says:

    Perhaps Asil Nadir will send him a watch with “Don’t let the bastards get you dwn” engraved on it? :-))

  4. JoeB says:

    “The Police Area Returning Officer for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Mark Heath, and the local electoral registration officer in Winchester have both confirmed Michael Mates’s eligibility for this election.”
    Is this the case or not Mr Crick? If not, your story is “Michael Mates ineligble to stand as PCC candidate”, but if this statement is true then your story is… Well of course you have no story. You are simply recycling some mischief from a candidate opposed to Mr Mates. Shocking ‘journalism’, though in fact not worthy of that name.
    As for trying to dress it up as a ‘constitutional issue’, don’t make us laugh. IF there was any case to be investigated at all, there are plenty of neighbouring forces capable of doing it.

  5. Smoke and Mirrors! says:

    The “interesting” fact here is that, along with other odd rules which haven’t applied in elections for Local or Central Government before, stricter ones have now been applied for the P&CC Election. Criminal records going back to early teens are a case in point which has caused a lot of disruption and now great expense for some.

    Similarly, there is this rule that says the candidate must be on the electoral roll within the county – no boundary concessions like within 4km of a Parish etc.

    So, when it says home address it means within the County boundary. The Rt Hon Mates and some of his extended family have resided in West Suffolk for several years and until 2010 were on the electoral rolls in London too, as many MPs and families are.

    The Rt Hon and Mrs Mates are therefore familiar with being on two electoral rolls from his MP days up until 2010 when he retired/resigned/stood down.

    All that is being asked is why did he have to use the “trick” (a word used either by him or a friend) he and Mrs mates pulled in April? Was it necessary and is it legal the way they did it because false information seems to have been given either at Winchester, Chichester or both?

    All that has been asked of the Rt Hon is why he cannot be up front with certain matters? The main one in most folk’s eyes being his Dolphin Square windfall useage, which no other MP was allowed to “get away” with and there were similar circumstances with others. He’s made it rather complicated after 6 years procrastination and should have dealt with it a lot sooner than now – and we still don’t know how it is being resolved. Also the sums involved were in the tens and now in the hundreds of thousands.

    Please “Rose Bowl” and friends – don’t say we haven’t the right to know – the initial large sum was deemed to be “public purse” – not the Rt Hon Mates’ private fund!

    Michael Crick has every right, as do we all, to ask these questions because a P&CC really should be clear of any “doubtful” situations.

    1. Rose Bowl says:

      “Smoke and Mirrors”, I absolutely agree with you that we all have a right to know. From what I’ve read on this blog it just looked to me as though the question had been answered.

      If there is more to discover then all well and good. But given the strictness that seems to have been applied to rules for PCC elections, and how close the elections are, I ‘d be astonished if the electotral oficer hadn’t done his homework.

      Also seems a bit negative of a candidate who says he is an Independent using his platform to make personal claims against another. Not sure that this sort of grown up blog is the place for that sort of sledging.

  6. Amused says:

    Tory PR blog watchers are busy with their “dislikes” as usual!

  7. Not Amused! says:

    I’m glad you are – because we are NOT amused!

    ;-)

    But do keep “ticking” the boxes. I’m reliably informed that many Tory Associations are very busy with Mr Mates’ election leaflets – shredding them !!!!

  8. A Bro says:

    Err… This is a non problem. Anyone paying Council Tax automatically has their name put on the electoral register as I found out when living in Bristol weekdays only. For 8 years I was on the electoral registers in both Bristol and the Isle of Wight.

  9. A Sis (not A Sil!) says:

    Exactly so “A Bro”. So why did Mr and Mrs Mates make it a problem by pretending they had moved? You were actually living between two addresses too, by what you say. It is very doubtful, as two journalists discovered when the neighbours were asked, if the Mates have spent much, if any, time living in Winchester. But Mates has said he comes late and goes early – there’s obviously “something of the night about him” so it seems!

    It’s just a “trick” this prospective P&CC has had to play. He has also said several times that he feels that his whole life and career has been leading up to this job – then, when asked, he said as it was a new concept, he didn’t know what the job was!

  10. Perplexed says:

    Could somebody pleaseexplain to me why the deposit required to stand as a PCC candidate is 10 times that to stand as a Parliamentary candidate?

    This dissuades many Independent candidates standing and plays directly into the hands of political parties who will fund their candidates. This is not democracy.

    Presumably this is yet another ploy to cement the neo-feudalism aims of the present government, a strategy that has already seen the tripling of university fees aimed at dissuading the hoi polloi from tertiary education. Of course, an educated working class is a recurrent bourgeois nightmare: giving it an executive role in policing would be anathema.

  11. Wary says:

    So one of the candidates played the electoral role game by switching addresses to stand? Did not another candidate change political allegiance to be able to stand?

    Does this demonstrate the level of trust we can place in a politically orientated PCC?

    Caveat emptor!

    1. Rose Bowl says:

      bang on the mone! the other “independent” forgot that he had been a tory councillor for 25 years then forgot that he had applied to be the tory candidate. he was asked the question at a hustings the other night and squirmed when it was highlighted. Caveat emptor indeed!

  12. M Millen says:

    The Conservatives have chosen a dodgy character here. Shifting his address to a room in Winchester away from his family home sounds a poor start for a man who wants to act in this new role.
    And should he not have paid back the money he ‘fiddled’ from parliament when he was serving MP.
    If we are unfortunate enough to get this character, then at least we must monitor his expenses, preferably on a monthly basis by an outside auditor. Leopards do not change their spots

  13. Tony Clarke says:

    I think it’s a pity we are now having to doubt Michael Mates integrity.
    Is he ‘on a fiddle’ to get elected or did he genuinely think he could have a ‘pied a terre’ address in Hants to qualify?
    Maybe he still hasn’t learn’t from the MP’s House of Commons expenses scandal that MP’s (and former MP’s) must be squeaky clean.
    In spite of these issues I actually feel he’s a good guy and would do this job well so I hope this problem is resolved.

  14. Wary says:

    After being elected, would an incumbent PCC, having a permanent residence in another county, be able to claim expenses for renting/mortgaging a house in Hampshire (and living temporarily in it) simply to comply with the rules about candidacy ?

    Or is this yet another public “expenses pot” that is at risk of being abused similar to the one in Westminster?

    Who is the decision-maker on allowable PCC expenses?

  15. RichardactualWInchesterresident says:

    Ask Mates to publish the address he uses on his bank account/credit card/driving licence/car registration documents. Just photograph the relevant parts and post it on the web for all of us to see

  16. Andy says:

    I was interested to read that many Conservative Associations are shredding Michael Mates leaflets. As a Party member for many years I have refused to deliver his leaflets. I believe quite a few loyal Conservative supporters are refusing to support him and will either abstain or vote Independent (as I have already done by post).

  17. Steven george says:

    why do they insist on hiding in plain site, do they think we don’t see the corruption around us or is it that they know we can’t do anything about it so just don’t care about the public at large.

  18. Steven george says:

    It often the case that MPs etc go around the rules, or obviously on some occasions break them, and we, the public sit there amazed at their cheek, as expenses, etc, but in too many cases public still vote for them,particularly if they go on TV and say “lessons will be learned”, be it about
    something serious or not, always they laugh behind their hands, as another kerching is heard in their bank accounts. From cash for questions, to hiding the truth about Jimmy Savile, or Hillsborough , why are we surprised, there is no real deterrent for them at all, as in Mr Mike Hancocks case, weather found guilty or not, he will take a sideways step, and be safe, just as so many have, no doubt Mr Mates will make some clever dance move, from”I didnt know” or “Once I was elected I will settle there,” or whatever, all of them get golden handshakes in the end, however inglorious their reign, I trust them not, but I know Mr Gerrard, and trust his word implicitly.

  19. Jonboy says:

    The returning officer’s ruling is final. In the Bristol mayor elections they even allowed someone of no fixed address. And you can be on as many electoral lists as you like, legally.

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