The HoS reports that the Police are investigating brochures put out on the eve of the election by Nicholas Keesing, against Labour’s Epsom candidate Kate Sutton. Sutton Several Epsom residents complained to the Chief Electoral Officer, who has referred it to the Police.
Sutton is a former President of the Auckland University Students’ Association.
Now Keesing authorised the brochures he put out, so why is this a matter for the Police? If they are defamatory is this not a civil issue?
Section 199A of the Electoral Act 1993 says:
Every person is guilty of a corrupt practice who, with the intention of influencing the vote of any elector, at any time on polling day before the close of the poll, or at any time on any of the 2 days immediately preceding polling day, publishes, distributes, broadcasts, or exhibits, or causes to be published, distributed, broadcast, or exhibited, in or in view of any public place a statement of fact that the person knows is false in a material particular.
And what is the punishment for a corrupt practice. Under s224(1) it is up to two years in jail, and/or up to $40,000 fine.
If the Police prosecute, it will be up to a court to decide if the statements of facts in the brochure are false or not. For that reason, I would ask that people take care with their comments.
UPDATE: Have corrected story. Sutton did not complain. Several residents complained to the local Returning Officer who passed them on to the Chief Electoral Officer.Tags: defamation, Electoral Act, Kate Sutton, Nick Keesing