Election fraudster escapes jail term

A LABOUR candidate who forged a signature on his nomination form in this year's Mansfield District Council elections has escaped with a fine.

Meden Vale man Vic Jennings, who stood in Warsop's Birklands ward in May, could have been jailed after admitting a charge of election fraud at Nottingham Magistrates' Court last Wednesday.

But district judge Michael Wheeler spared him prison after he was told Jennings (53) had made every effort to discourage local people from voting for him when the issue came to light.

He told Jennings: "The offence is an unusual one. It is a serious one. People who commit this interfere with the free running of government and the interests of justice.

"I am not going to send you to prison. I take the view that this offence was committed by you out of the sense of urgency and foolishness rather than to interfere with the election."

Prosecutor Simon Orme told the court Jennings, of Portland Crescent, had committed the offence on 4th April when he was completing his nomination form – but only had 20 minutes before it had to be handed in.

He said Warsop man Edwin Tattersall had complained to police after being informed his name and signature appeared on the nomination form.

Jennings was interviewed by police and said he was a newcomer to the ward so did not know many people who could sign his form and had found himself short of time.

Jennings had tried to contact Mr Tattersall after being told he was interested in politics, but did not know he was actually a Conservative supporter. He had not been able to contact him so had written his details on the form and faked his signature.

Paul Bacon, in mitigation, told the court Jennings had tried to get enough legitimate signatures on his form and once the mistake emerged had immediately told residents not to vote for him — although he still gained 350 votes.

He said: "His guilty admission is even before the police have arrested and interviewed him. He did what he could to make amends."

Mr Bacon said Jennings had been elected unopposed to Warsop Parish Council but did not take up the post.

Jennings was fined 400 with 75 costs and is automatically disqualified from standing for election for five years.

Speaking to Chad outside the courtroom, Mr Bacon said: "The fine reflects the fact that the court has taken into account that he did everything he could immediately before the election to advise people not to vote for him.

"Fortunately, there was no need for a further election, which has also been taken into account by the judge. He has resigned from the parish council where he was a member and now wishes to put the whole matter behind him."