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Tory agent disowns his own candidate!
Constituency round-up, Issue 1391
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ANDREW TURNER, the pisspoor Conservative candidate on the Isle of Wight, had seemed assured of victory because the party faithful would vote for a nematode worm as long as it was Tory (see last Eye). But last weekend the worm turned.

On Saturday, his election agent David Walter wrote to Turner asking him to accept his resignation because “I now find myself in a wholly untenable situation”. His complaints are legion.

There is the role of Turner’s ex-fiancée Carole Dennett, aka Lady Macbeth, much reviled by local Tories. Despite Turner’s reassurances that she wouldn’t be involved in the campaign, according to Walter she exercises “dominance and control of all aspects”, making it “impossible for me to do my job”.

‘Anomalies’ in campaign finances
The agent is also seriously worried by “significant anomalies and ambiguities” in campaign finances, again involving Lady Macbeth, which are “not acceptable” and could breach electoral law. Furthermore, thanks to the incompetence of Turner and Lady Macbeth, the Tory candidate missed the deadline for the free Royal Mail distribution of election leaflets to all households. Given that free delivery is a core part of any campaign, “this is a disastrous situation”.

Walter’s conclusion is a startling assessment of a candidate by his own election agent less than a fortnight before polling day: “Your failure to provide any leadership to your campaign – or demonstrate an ability to make decisions yourself – has led to this wholly regrettable situation. It does, of course, raise serious questions about your basic competency to continue as Member of Parliament for the Isle of Wight.” Onward to victory!

* * * * * * *

Sikh notes

RETURNING officers at Gravesham in Kent, where Tory Adam Holloway is defending a 9,312 majority over Labour, have emailed all parliamentary candidates to remind them of “the proper standards of conduct for campaigners in the electoral process and particularly with regard to postal voting”.

The candidates’ attention has been drawn to the Electoral Commission’s election guide, which tells voters they must not let anyone “watch you while you complete your postal ballot paper; take your postal ballot paper from you… or take your completed postal ballot pack away to deliver on your behalf”. Of the 70,000 Gravesham electorate, 15,000 have registered to vote by post.

Deputy returning officer Sarah Kilkie says the move was prompted by “several recent complaints made to us”. The Eye understands these have come from members of the borough’s 8,000-strong Sikh community, who have felt under undue pressure from supporters of Labour candidate – and Sikh – Cllr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi to hand over postal vote forms.

One worried voter told the Eye: “The Sikh mafia are intimidating and threatening people, demanding that they vote Labour. If they don’t, it not only impacts on them here but also their families in India. The police are aware but can do nothing as no one will step forward.”

Returning officer David Hughes tells the Eye: “I do not have any investigatory powers in respect of alleged electoral offences, so the complainants were provided with the contact details of the Kent police officer assigned to deal with allegations of electoral offences.”

Back in 2012, Eye 1313 reported on an eventful twinning trip to India by councillors from Gravesham. Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi was the borough’s ceremonial mayor at the time. During the visit to Jalandhar, Punjab – the Dhesi family’s home town – the group blundered into a major scandal involving Dhesi’s Indian relatives. His mother, Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi, had just been jailed for her part in the “honour crime” abduction and forced abortion of a young woman who had subsequently died. It also emerged that a model new hospital the Gravesham party was due to visit was touting for business from expat Indians in the UK, and that Mammy Dhesi had a financial interest in it.

After our story appeared it was assumed Dhesi’s political career was finished – but then he was selected as the town’s Labour candidate.

* * * * * * *

First-Handy experience

“I KNOW from personal experience that funding mental health is important,” says sex-pest beardie Mike Hancock in one of his campaign leaflets in Portsmouth South. “It should not be the ‘Cinderella’ of the NHS. So, I’ll support significantly better mental health services.”

“Handy”, who is running as an independent having been expelled by the Lib Dems, certainly has “personal experience” of mental health issues. This began when a constituent “Annie” (not her real name) went to see him for advice on how to deal with a noisy neighbour in 2009. Annie told him she had mental health problems brought about by childhood sexual abuse. In her subsequent testimony, she alleged that Hancock – her MP and a local councillor in the Fratton ward – then visited her flat and tried to assault her.

When Annie’s court claim for compensation for sexual assault was about to be heard in 2014, Hancock again had “personal experience” of mental health services. His lawyers presented psychiatric evidence that he lacked capacity to instruct his legal team. The court threw out the claim. Annie’s lawyers pointed out that Hancock was standing again in Fratton so clearly he must think he had the capacity to represent its residents. As he is now standing again for parliament, the Eye can safely say Handy’s recovery is complete.

* * * * * * *

Horkin talkin’

“I BELIEVE I bring a unique combination of perspectives,” declares Kevin Horkin, Tory candidate for the Lancashire seat of Hyndburn. Besides owning a local chain of opticians, the businessman has written “a couple of books on celebrities and their pet dogs” and enjoys “the loyalty and friendship of many northern local celebrities, like former Accrington girl Vicky Entwistle”, who used to play Janice Battersby in Coronation Street.

But there’s so much more to him than that. Eye readers may recall a Sun scoop five years ago featuring “a photo said to show a GHOST” – a picture of a pale young woman at a castle window. It had been taken by “company boss Kevin Horkin” on a visit to Gwrych Castle in North Wales, but he “only saw the ghostly figure when he downloaded his pictures later”.

What the Sun omitted to say – but Eye 1257 revealed – was that Horkin had set up a company called Parallel Management, a “full-service psychic management agency”; his plan was to buy Gwrych Castle and turn it into “Britain’s first psychic school of excellence”. Such a business could only be boosted by rumours of ghoulish goings-on at the building that the Sun helpfully dubbed “Britain’s most haunted”.

Readers with longer memories may recall an Eye story from 1995, cataloguing the efforts of Kevin Horkin to find fame by hiring out animals to appear on Coronation Street and then milking his connection to the programme. We revealed that his books on dogs and his pet columns in the Sunday People were in fact ghost-written (sic) by his show-business manager John Sutton, who described Horkin to the Eye as “a talentless shitbag” (Eye 868).

Sutton also claimed Horkin had been going behind the back of his Coronation Street “chums” and selling tabloid tales about them. Although Horkin flatly denied to the Eye he had sold a story to the People, we obtained a contract sent to him by the paper promising to pay £10,000 for his exclusive about actress “Lynne Perrie and her book including full details of her affairs with Freddie Starr and Johnnie Briggs”.

Then there was Horkin’s revelation in 2002 in the People that at a charity dinner the former royal butler Paul Burrell had followed him into the loo, “grabbed my hand, pulled me towards him and tried to kiss me full on the mouth”. Horkin punched him in the stomach. How modest of him to omit all these adventures from his dull election website! However, it does feature his unimprovable campaign slogan: “Kevin Horkin – Hyndburn Deserves Better.”

  • LETTERS to voters in Watford from the Lib Dems feature a photo of “former Labour voter” Maria Cole, explaining that despite having been an active member of the Labour party, “I know I have to vote Liberal Democrat where I live.” Ms Cole does not live anywhere near Watford, but in Portsmouth South, where the same photo features in local Lib Dem candidate Gerald Vernon-Jackson’s leaflets. She’s also the proposer on his candidate nomination papers!

  • LABOUR party campaigner and council election candidate Richard Body makes an unexpected guest appearance in Conservative parliamentary candidate Margot James’s leaflets in Stourbridge. Mr Body stars in a photo illustrating a litter-pick by the non-partisan Cradley Action Group. He says he wasn’t asked permission to use his picture, but how nice of Ms James to promote a rival’s community work!

  • EAT your heart out, Neasden police: the crime log of the election comes from Histon Safer Neighbourhood Team in Cambridgeshire, who recorded: “15/04/2015 21:30 - 16/04/2015 09:30 Between the stated times unknown offender/s have stolen a VOTE UKIP ELECTION BOARD and POST from the front garden.”

  • PROPERTY owners in the North Kensington area of west London, received letters from estate agent Marsh & Parsons seeking rented accommodation for “good quality, respectable tenants” who will soon be looking for somewhere to live near Westminster. Surprisingly, this description turns out to refer to new MPs, as the agency has been asked to help find appropriate places for MPs to spend their second home allowance – now that it can only be spent on rent, not buying property – by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

  • Leeds North West’s Labour candidate, Alex Sobel, had to back down hurriedly after his leaflets sucked charity Kidz in Kampz into an election rules row. The leaflet quoted charity chief Madge Davey saying the group, which supports displaced children along the Thai-Burmese border, was “backing” Sobel. Not only would that break election rules, but the charity’s patron is also, er, incumbent Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland. Sobel later apologised, stating that Ms Davey had not said the charity was backing him after all.
More top stories in the latest issue:

The MPs who leaped to defend Greville Janner in the Commons when he first faced accusations of child sex abuse 100 years ago.

Labour and the Conservatives shower voters with housing bribes that risk putting rents and prices up without tackling the central issue: lack of supply.

Lord (Digby) Jones attacks Labour’s anti-business rhetoric – but given his past business record, is the ex-CBI boss really such a poster boy himself?

Labour’s manifesto support for the EU-US trade deal TTIP means UK public services would be open to yet more private sector operators, not less.

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Next issue on sale: 12th May 2015.

Private Eye Issue 1390