Labour accused of 'illegal' and 'intimidating' tactics during Batley and Spenborough elections

The Labour Party has been accused of soughting to intimidate voters during elections.

It follows the setting up of a confidential telephone hotline in the Batley and Spen constituency to prevent “illegal election practice” in the run-up to the General Election on December 12.

Independent candidate for Batley and Spen Paul Halloran said he rang the hotline following reports of people being threatened or intimidated at polling stations to vote for a certain party “against their own instincts”, which he blamed on Labour.

A source within Yorkshire and the Humber Labour Party dismissed his comments as “a malicious slur by a man desperate for attention”, who was “willing to engage in dirty, underhand tactics”.

Independent candidate for Batley and Spen Paul Halloran

Mr Halloran’s claims come days after he and his fellow five candidates signed a pledge to run a “decent” campaign in Batley and Spen.

The phone line, manned by a member of Mr Halloran's team. was set up to report threats and intimidation as well as other illegal activity such as postal vote fraud and vote harvesting.

Mr Halloran has urged West Yorkshire Police and Kirklees Council election officials – including Returning Officer Jacqui Gedman – to clamp down on such matters over the next three weeks.

He also warned if authorities did not act promptly he and his team would upload recordings of “suspicious activity” outside and inside the grounds of polling stations to social media.

Ballot Box

He said: “The authorities are on notice."

In a direct attack on Labour rivals he accused them of what he called “the same old tactics”.

He said: "This includes people being stopped on their way to vote, in the grounds and entrance to polling stations, with the sole aim of asking, and in some cases instructing, people to vote Labour.

“Many voters have told me they find this tactic both intimidating and threatening.

“I have pointed out to them it is illegal and has no place in a 2019 General Election campaign in Batley and Spen

Mr Halloran said individuals had been prepared to compromise the integrity of the ballot by committing postal vote fraud and used examples of the names of dead people being used in ballots as well as postal votes being sent from empty properties.

Batley and Spen is being contested by Ty Akram (Green Party), Tracy Brabin (Labour), Mark Brooks (Conservative), John Lawson (Liberal Democrat), Clive Minihan (Brexit Party) and Mr Halloran.

Together they became the first candidates in the country to sign an agreement to run an election campaign “free of abuse and intimidation”.

And in a direct reference to Tracy Brabin he said: “I expect the Labour candidate and all candidates to call this out and to ensure that Labour and their supporters and activists behave themselves.

“We will be watching and exposing any sign of this kind of historic behaviour occurring at this election.”

A source from Yorkshire and the Humber Labour Party said: “Labour candidates and campaigners abide by and respect the law and guidance issued by the returning officer.

“We hope Mr Halloran will clean up his act.”