Door knocker 'signed proxy votes on trust'
- 18 October 2012
- From the section Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin
A door-knocker for the Kevin Woodford campaign team put her signature on proxy forms as she trusted the manager, an election fraud trial has heard.
Gail Corrin 40, from Douglas, Isle of Man, was a campaign team volunteer between March and May 2010 in the run up to the Douglas East by-election.
She denies conspiracy to affect legal purposes by improper means.
Mrs Corrin said: "I didn't know I was doing anything wrong- I trusted Buster Lewin, I had no reason not to."
Charles "Buster" Lewin, 57, of Crosby, has admitted conspiracy to affect legal purposes by improper means, conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to forge a document.
Mrs Corrin's signature appeared on several proxy application forms in the by-election and by signing the forms she confirmed she knew the proxy applicant - but in some of the cases, she did not.
When asked by prosecution QC Cairns Nelson whether she thought it was appropriate to sign a government form to say she knew someone when she did not, Mrs Corrin replied that at the time she did not understand that principle.
The court heard Lewin had asked Mrs Corrin to sign a batch of proxy forms when she was in the campaign office one evening and she had asked why.
"He said I was doing him a favour and it was just a signature so he could get the forms off to the Treasury in morning. He said it doesn't matter, all you need to do is sign the paperwork - I'm telling you to do it," she said.
"On that basis I didn't think I was doing anything wrong. I asked him, he said it was OK and I trusted him."
The court heard Mrs Corrin had known Lewin, a friend of her father's, for several years as a business associate before the election campaign.
However Mrs Corrin did not reveal to police in her statement she had, between May 2009 and November 2009 been in a "physical relationship" with him.
She said he was "an acquaintance" with whom she had "no social involvement".
The prosecution asked Mrs Corrin what she had been trying to hide.
"If I had been asked directly about the relationship with Buster I would have said, but it was well and truly over by then," she said.
"And what would you class as a social relationship? I would say 'social' means you are going out for dinner - we didn't do that."
Mrs Corrin told the trial she had accompanied Lewin on some evenings during the campaign because he had said having a woman with him would help put female voters at ease.
"I was told to remain silent so he could have the voter's full attention to do a spiel about Kevin Woodford.
"My role was to inform him of who was in the household and to hand him the relevant paperwork - I was a scribe and nothing else."
She said, on the times she went door-to-door with Lewin, he had always been clear with voters about who he was representing and what a proxy vote was.
"He was like a broken record, he said the same thing all the time, who he was and who he was representing."
She said none of the voters she had canvassed with Lewin had ever signed a proxy application without knowing what they were doing.
Mrs Corrin said despite being part of the campaign team she had no interest in getting Mr Woodford elected.
"I didn't even like him, I thought he was a bit jumped-up to be honest," she said.
Mrs Corrin said she went along with Lewin because he needed her help and "it was something to do in the evenings".
Isle of Man resident Mr Woodford, best known for appearances on TV cooking shows Ready Steady Cook and Can't Cook, Won't Cook, previously told the trial he was not aware of any election fraud.
He unsuccessfully stood in the Douglas East by-election to become a Member of the House of Keys.
The other defendant in the trial, Kerry Rothwell, 25, from Onchan, denies the same charges as Mrs Corrin.
The trial continues.