Police investigate complaints over leaflet targeting election candidate for Chapel Parish Council

Derbyshire Police has launched an investigation into complaints over a leaflet which targeted a new member of Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish Council during the election period.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 11:44 am

It is thought that around 2,000 leaflets were delivered to addresses in the Chapel West ward starting on April 26, which were critical of independent candidate Alistair Beswick.

Charity worker Alistair, 42, said: “I was absolutely shocked when someone first posted a picture of the leaflet on Facebook. I just couldn’t believe it.

“There were four candidates and I just couldn’t understand why they were targeting me, as someone who would be brand new to the council.”

Alistair Beswick was elected to Chapel parish council last week.

He added: “The leaflets were saying I wasn’t from Chapel and didn’t care about it. I had to buy a house a couple of hundred metres over the parish border in Chinley, but I grew up in Chapel, went to school there, volunteer there, and all my friends and family are local.

“There have been problems with the council, a lot of members resigned, and I just thought it was the perfect time to get more involved in the community.”

Alistair eventually won one of three seats in the ward, but with 250 votes less than the candidate who polled highest.

He said: “I definitely think it had an impact on voting. Luckily I’m quite well known and had that support, but for people who didn’t know me I can only imagine what they thought when that came through the letterbox.

“I’ve had a lot of messages of support. People have just been as shocked and angry and I am.”

Officers are investigating the matter as a potential breach of section 110 of the Representation of the Peoples Act 1983, which specifies that all election materials must include the details of the person who prints and publishes them, and any candidate they support. Any breach could incur a fine of up to £2,000.

A Derbyshire Police spokesperson said: “The force has received several complaints in relation to electoral leaflets delivered in Chapel-en-le-Frith. Advice was sought from a specialist CPS colleague in relation to the allegations.

“Following enquiries into the allegations two people were spoken to and words of advice were given. A third person is to be interviewed in relation to the distribution of the leaflets.”

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