MPACUK has said right-wing activists are trying to scare Muslims from participating in the democratic process after it was reported to the Electoral Commission for breaches of election, election finance and data protection laws.
The right-wing, Tory-supporting Guido Fawkes blog said MPACUK would also be reported to the police and Information Commissioner’s Office if it does not give a satisfactory response to a legal letter sent on behalf of the new Campaign for Ballot Integrity, chaired by former Labour MP John Woodcock.
The legal action asks why the Muslim group has not registered with the Electoral Commission as a non-party campaigner, and whether it was authorised to incur targeted spending by the Labour Party, which it is campaigning for.
The letter also asks:
- Whether MPACUK has complied with electoral law on spending limits, particularly in relation to constituency spending.
- Whether it has been authorised by election agents to incur expenses on behalf of any candidate in the constituencies in which it is campaigning.
- Whether it is using paid canvassers illegally.
- What personal data it is processing, on behalf of whom and whether it has consent to do so.
Chairman of the Campaign for Ballot Integrity, the former Labour MP, John Woodcock said: “MPAC’s activities at this election give cause for serious concern over its compliance with registration, campaign finance and data laws. We rightly have strong electoral law so that we have a fair playing field at our elections.
“Given public concern that the electoral process is increasingly subject to improper interference, swift action must be taken to ensure the integrity of this general election. The public will be concerned to hear about the allegations of antisemitism which have also been made against this group.
“The new Campaign for Ballot Integrity, which I am proud to Chair, will be taking robust and immediate action to call out, question and challenge any illegal or improper activity which has become apparent through the course of the general election campaign, including but not limited to taking legal action in the courts. Today’s action against MPAC is the beginning of the fightback against electoral wrongdoing that has gone unchallenged for too long.”
But MPACUK said in a statement that throughout the General Election campaign it has been in contact with the Electoral Commission to make sure it is fully informed and in compliance with all legal requirements. It said the Commission also stated there is no need for MPACUK to register with them.
The statement added: “This attempt by the notorious John Woodcock and his accomplices to go after MPACUK shows that our ‘Operation Muslim Vote Campaign’ is working and they are worried that in this General Election we are mobilising Muslims to exercise their democratic rights.
“If Woodcock genuinely cared for ‘ballot integrity,’ why not focus on the Conservative party’s serial scandal spree of blocked Google ads, banned YouTube ads, deception on fact-checking, and that’s without mentioning the consistent lies of Boris Johnson and the Tories. Instead, his first target was MPACUK who work tirelessly to give a disempowered BAME minority a voice in the democratic process.
“Considering how this has been coordinated between the disgraced John Woodcock and the egregious trio of Griffin Law (who have a reputation for representing the Conservative party), the Guido Fawkes right-wing blog and Daily Express journalists, we believe this Islamophobically motivated attack is nothing more than an attempt to scare Muslims off from exercising their democratic rights.
“Aside from the fact that it is laughable that the Campaign for Ballot Integrity does not even appear to be a legal entity, they do not even have a website (at the time of writing) and only registered their domain on 30th November 2019.
“As for John Woodcock, it also seems to be a personal attempt to exact some revenge against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, as he was being investigated over allegations of sexual misconduct with a female member of staff – he resigned before the investigation could be concluded.
“We are also seeking legal advice with regards to defamation of MPACUK by the inept bloggers working at Guido Fawkes.”
MPACUK’s General Election has focussed on trying to kick the Tories out of power and put Jeremy Corbyn in Downing St.
In the run-up to the December 12 vote, MPACUK is targeting marginal seats where the Muslim vote is larger than the current Tory MP’s majority vote. And it is focussing entirely on MPs that have a record of advancing Islamophobia and/or working against the Palestinian struggle for freedom.