Shortly after the May 2016 local elections, a case was brought against Cllr John Evans (Alvaston) by the Returning Officer ( and Legal Officer), Janie Berry, of Derby City Council for electoral fraud. This was reported on in Derby News in July 2016 “Cllr John Evans: Why did Derby City Council try to unseat a democratically elected Councillor?”
This article reported on the fact that the case collapsed in the Court on 24th May 2016.
The Judge in the case was advised that “There was no suggestion that Mr Evans had acted dishonestly”, and the conclusion was, and this was agreed by Ms Janie Berry, Derby City Council Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) who brought the case against Mr Evans, that it would be “… most unlikely that any prosecution would be brought against Mr Evans” The Barristers notes continue to say, “There is no evidence of fraud and an abundance of evidence of mistake regarding the application of the 8 February ( date his de-registration of Coronation Ave was processed incorrectly). There is also compelling evidence of Mr Evans having conducted himself with probity”
Despite this, the case was still referred to the Police, and much unnecessary “sensation” was made of this by the Derby Telegraph, and political gain attempted by opposition Councillors.
8 months later, the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service concluded that there was no case to answer. The whole case was dropped…after wasting much tax payers money, and creating 9 months of anxiety and stress for Cllr Evans and his family.
The questions I raised in my original article still stand, and require answering:
- Why was Chris Doidge of Radio Derby named as a complainant when, under Data Protection rules he should not have been privy to Cllr Evans entries in the “closed” Electoral Register? Who leaked this information to him from within the Council?
- Why was the case pursued by the Council’s Legal Officer when it was obvious to any objective observer that nothing sinister had been committed by Cllr Evans – in fact it was down to a mistake within the Council’s system
- Why was it necessary to refer it to the Police when the Court dismissed it in May 2016?
- Why did Derby City Council’s Chief Executive, Paul Robinson suggest, before the Court Case, that he may get a prison sentence, or may need to resign when it was clear that that was never the case?
These are not just academic questions they should raise concerns about how democracy is functioning in Derby, the role of impartial Council Officers, and connections with established media in the City. With major Council elections only a year away – this should be the subject of an independent enquiry!
Categories: Derby City Council