NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Aberdeen 'Helena Torry' mannequin election woman Renee Slater acquitted

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Media captionRenee Slater entered a mannequin as a candidate in Aberdeen's city council election

An Aberdeen woman charged after a mannequin was entered as a candidate in last year's city council election has been acquitted.

Renee Slater was taken to court over the name Helena Torry being put forward to stand in the May election.

She was charged under the Representation of the People Act 1983 and went on trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court this week.

A sheriff ruled there was no case to answer after two days of evidence.

Deputy returning officer Crawford Langley had told the court he had taken nomination papers from the accused an hour before the close of nominations.

Ms Slater was charged with adding a candidate she knew was, in fact, a mannequin.

Speaking after the trial, Mr Langley said he believed the prosecution failed on a technicality.

Ms Slater told BBC Scotland she had wanted to represent the voice of the silent majority in the Torry area of Aberdeen.

Her defence lawyer, Gregor Kelly, said: "My client is grateful that this harrowing ordeal is now at an end and is pleased to have been vindicated by the court.

"She told the police that she sought to inject humour into an austere process.

"Ms Slater, who has worked tirelessly over the years in various community projects, did not seek to belittle or demean the electoral process and is glad that, on this occasion, common sense has prevailed."

'Obviously disappointed'

Mr Langley said: "I am obviously disappointed that the case against Renee Slater was dismissed by the court on the grounds that there was no case to answer.

"It is important to understand that this decision was based on a strict legal technicality in the way that the charge was framed and that the court did not consider the facts of the case or give a ruling on legality of nominating a non-human candidate.

"As I understand it, the prosecuting authorities chose to bring the charge under section 65a of the Representation of the People Act 1983, which is the provision which applies to general elections in Scotland and local government elections in England.

"The equivalent offence in a Scottish local government election is section 65b. Since section 65a does not create an offence at a Scottish local government election, there was no case to answer."

Reunited with Helena

He added: "The decision to prosecute and, if so, on what charge, is entirely a matter for the procurator fiscal and the person making the complaint has no control over it, nor even formal knowledge of the charge.

"Since the decision was on this narrow technicality, it has not changed or clarified my understanding of the legal position in relation to the nomination process.

"If faced with the same situation again, I will have no hesitation in referring the matter to the police."

A Crown Office spokesperson said: "The accused was acquitted after trial following legal submission. The Crown is currently considering the decision of the Court."

As for Helena Torry, the mannequin has been held in storage by Grampian Police and is due to be reunited with Ms Slater at a later date.

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