Police investigate after UKIP candidate sent haircut voucher to voters at the same time as election leaflet
A UKIP election candidate said he did not mean to 'do anything sinister' - after campaign literature was delivered with a £5 voucher for his own hairdressing salon.
Police are investigating 'potential electoral malpractice' following a complaint about the items sent to voters on behalf of Nicholas Lansdell, who stood in the Thorpe Hamlet ward.
Mr Lansdell said the offer of a £5 discount on a wash, cut and blow dry at Above The Fringe hairdressers, on Castle Meadow, was not designed to win support in yesterday's election.
He said the voucher was only sent out at the same time his leaflet because the men he paid to distribute it said they could deliver both at once, along with leaflets for other businesses.
The voucher promised '£5 off with this leaflet', but the 53-year-old said this referred to the voucher itself, and not the letter, which mentioned his salon as well as setting out his election platform.
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He said: 'I'm sorry if I upset anybody. It was not intentional. They were doing all the leaflets for me, so they said they would do it for me, so they incorporated it in two. There were lots of other businesses as well.'
One voter who received the two items together questioned whether they amounted to 'treating', an electoral offence.
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Electoral Commission guidance says a person is guilty of an offence if 'either before, during or after an election they directly or indirectly give or provide any food, drink, entertainment or provision to corruptly influence any voter to vote or refrain from voting'.
The guidance adds that treating 'requires a corrupt intent – it does not apply to ordinary hospitality'.
A spokesperson for Norwich City Council said: 'We have referred this matter to the Electoral Commission which has advised us to report it to the police.'
A police spokesman said: 'Norfolk Constabulary is currently investigating potential electoral malpractice relating to the Norwich area, reported to us by a member of the public. We have also discussed this report with Norwich City Council. Inquiries continue.'
Mr Lansdell said: 'I did not mean to do anything sinister. It was very innocent.'
He said the 10,000 vouchers were being distributed across the city, and 1,000 letters in Thorpe Hamlet, and he paid £150 for the leaflet drop, which was carried out by 'a couple of guys' who offered to do it after coming in for a hair cut, but whose names he did not know.
He said he had never stood for election before, and added: 'They approached me to be a UKIP councillor, and I was not even a member. I looked into it and thought 'I will just see how it goes'.'
He said he only joined UKIP two months ago, and was annoyed with the party for asking him to stand in Thorpe Hamlet, rather than Lakenham, where he lives.
Speaking as voting was under way, he added: 'I have not got a winning speech ready. I would be very surprised if I won.'
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