Jersey's Court 'needs power to disqualify candidates'

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Jersey's Royal Court should have the power to disqualify election candidates who falsify their declaration papers, the Deputy Bailiff has said.

William Bailhache said Jersey's election law needed to be changed.

A bid for Deputy Geoff Southern to be disqualified from the October elections was refused in the Royal Court.

Senator candidate Darius Pearce wanted him banned from running for office because his proposer failed to declare 20 counts of breaking election law.

In 2009 Deputy Southern was fined £10,000 at the Royal Court for 20 counts of breaking Jersey election laws by helping people complete applications for postal votes.

On Tuesday, the Royal Court heard that Deputy Southern only declared he had one conviction, and this was not read out at the nomination meeting.

The Deputy's lawyer, Advocate David Hopwood said: "It would be unduly harsh to disqualify Deputy Southern on these grounds. It wasn't his fault his declaration wasn't read out in full at the nominations meeting."

Mr Bailhache said it was accepted that Deputy Southern had made a genuine mistake when he declared only one conviction. He said even if there were powers to disqualify they would not have been used in this case.

He said in any case the court had no power to disqualify a candidate whether he knowingly or unknowingly falsified a declaration paper.

But Mr Bailhache said Privileges and Procedures did need to look into amending the public election law so that the court did have the power to disqualify a candidate should the need arise.

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