On Monday the 21st Oct, 2019, Cllr David Wimble (Ind) attended Folkestone Police Station where he was interviewed under caution in respect of allegations of committing offences contrary to s.81 & s.82 Representation of People Act 1983, which are to do with returns as to election expenses and declarations as to election expenses
We understand that during the interview, Cllr Wimble made certain admissions along with mitigation in respect of those admissions. What the admissions and mitigation’s were exactly, we do not know yet.
We stress being interviewed under caution does not imply guilt. That can only be decided upon by a court and a jury.
The matter was forwarded to the Specialist Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) team in London where the matter was reviewed by the senior lawyer who leads this team.
The decision of the CPS is that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute Cllr Wimble and it was recommended that he should be given stern words of advice. Consequently, Cllr Wimble has been sent a formal letter advising him that if he were to come to police notice again in respect of Representation of People Act 1983 offences, then the likelihood would be that he would be formally prosecuted.
A copy of this letter has been lodged with the Folkestone & Hythe District Returning officer, Dr Susan Priest, who is also the Chief Executive of Folkestone & Hythe District Council, for the record.
We note that Cllr Wimble has failed to update his Register of Interests especially the category called “Sponsorship” which is to do with election expenses; and is defined in the Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012 (with the same description used in F&HDC’s Code of Conduct for Councillors (page 12)) as:
“Any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the relevant authority) made or provided within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by M in carrying out duties as a member, or towards the election expenses of M.
This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.”
A councillor not declaring a disclosable pecuniary interest is deemed to be committing a criminal offence if the councillor knows the information is false and misleading or is reckless as to whether the information is true or misleading. Taking part in a meeting or voting, when prevented from doing so by a conflict caused by disclosable pecuniary interests, is also a criminal offence – so two separate offences . This applies only to pecuniary interests, not to any breaches of the other elements of a code of conduct. Either offence is punishable by a (level 5 fine – currently an unlimited amount), and an order disqualifying the person from being a member of a relevant authority for up to five years. A prosecution must be brought within 12 months of the prosecuting authorities having the evidence to warrant prosecution, but any prosecution must be brought within 3 years of the commission of the offence and only by or on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Cllr Wimble is NOT the only Cllr to have been interviewed under caution with regards to offences of the Representation of People Act 1983. In Oct 2019, both Cllr Clive Goddard (Con) and former Cllr Russell Tillson were both interviewed under caution by Kent Police
The Shepwayvox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime