As an experienced count agent; what I witnessed at the count and what the council’s tallies gave us as a final figure, I would state the council’s totals were grossly inaccurate and I would say fraudulent. They were shockingly inaccurate and arrogantly and fraudulently presented. I have attended many counts and this count was by far the worst I have ever witnessed. Count agents were deliberately hindered from their duties to ensure fair election.
Our campaign was greeted enthusiastically by many people within the English part of Batley & Spen. Even when we got into the count it looked like that, although we were not of course going to win the election, we were going to get votes significantly larger than any of the other patriotic parties. In the declared result however the position was as follows:-
|Kim Leadbeater||Labour Party||13,296|
|George Galloway||Workers Party||8,264|
|Tom Gordon||Lib Dems||1,254|
|Corey Robinson||Yorkshire Party||816|
|Therese Hirst||English Democrats||207|
|Howling Laud Hope||Loony Party||107|
|Mike Davies||All. Green Socialism||104|
|Paul Bickerdike||Christian P. A.||102|
|Jonathan Tilt||Freedom Alliance||100|
|Anne Marie Waters||The For Britain Movement||97|
|Andrew Smith||Rejoin EU||75|
|Ollie Purser||Social Democratic Party||66|
|Susan Laird||Heritage Party||33|
The Batley & Spen By-election result at first instance seemed a bit of a disappointment, but it turns out that there had been all sorts of shenanigans going on in this heavily Labourone party state area.
After the count George Galloway immediately came out and said that he was intending to challenge the result in court, as he felt there had been numerous improprieties in the way that the Labour Council had acted and also the Labour candidate. My view is that he has a strong case and we are working to help him overturn the result in court.
Doing so will inevitably cost money, however it is vital that Labour is not allowed to get away with election rigging, which seems to be all too often its basic reaction to any serious electoral challenge.
Several people have made Witness Statements, but I think you will be most interested in what our candidate, Therese Hirst has to say. Here is her Witness Statement:-
1. I make this statement in support of the Claimant’s case to set aside the election for Batley & Spen Parliamentary Constituency.
2. I was a candidate standing in the Batley and Spen By-Election which took place on 01 July 2021, at Cathedral House, St. Thomas’ Road, Huddersfield, HD1 3LG on behalf of the English Democrats party. I am a retired teacher of Religious Education and have a PGDL from the College of Law, York and do pro-bono work in the community. I am also Deputy Chairman of the Party.
3. I was campaigning along with my team in the Victoria Market Square in Birstall, Batley on Sunday, 27th June 2021 around 11:30am and was waiting for some of our volunteers to arrive so we could discuss our strategy for that day. I can’t recall the exact time.
4. Although I wasn’t paying too much attention at the time, as I was chatting to some of the volunteers who had turned up to help us that day, I recall overhearing Graham Moore, who was the campaign team organiser for the English Democrats, say that he was going to go over to the bar that was open across the road to see if he could use their toilet. It is called CJ’s Style Bar.
5. He returned quite quickly so I knew there must be something wrong. He told us he had been refused entry because the landlord didn’t want any “Far-Right” people in his pub; and that he “didn’t want our sort in there”. He was rather angered about this and said that “this [was] a human rights issue”, as “the English had a right to self-determination under International Law and cannot be discriminated against”. “And this is discrimination this is”. Or words to that effect. He resolved to take the matter further.
6. I needed to use the toilet and was thirsty myself so I thought twice about going over as I thought that I would not be allowed in either. However, I felt rather annoyed over what had happened, and felt that my name had been tarnished unfairly and that of my party that I was represented, so I decided to go over and hope that the landlord would let me in. After all, I believe myself and those with whom I associate to be decent and respectable people, and I needed to challenge this gross unfairness. I was hoping that the landlord wouldn’t refuse a couple of ladies, especially as I am disabled, so Val Phillips and I decided to try and get served.
7. As I’d never been in the premises before I did not notice the hand sanitisers or the book that had been placed on the counter for COVID precautions, but once I did, I apologised, smiled, sanitised my hands and wrote my details in the book. The atmosphere was rather tense and hostile, so I felt a little intimidated but not daunted.
8. I asked the bartender (who I later realised was the landlord) for a diet coke, but he refused on the grounds that they were full and were waiting for some other regulars to turn up who had a prior booking. I said that we wouldn’t be long, but he still refused. So, I politely asked if I could have a drink to take away, but he refused on the grounds that he didn’t have a licence.
9. As Val Phillips and I weren’t at all convinced that either of this was the case, as we looked round the snug and counted only a few people socially distancing, I decided to question his position an so I told the landlord that, “I bet he didn’t even know enough about me and what I stood for to even write it on a post-it note, only what other people had told him about us. I told him that I regarded myself as standing for a party that represented England and the people of this country and that I was neither Left nor Right, just English” – and pointed to my rosette. I also said that, “I had every right in a democracy to be able to campaign as was any other candidate in this election”.
10. He did not reply but I could tell that he thought we were decent people and that he was starting to change his mind. I still felt a little intimated because the whole room was completely silent, and I knew that everyone was looking at us.
11. I explained that we only wanted a quick drink and to use his toilet and weren’t looking to cause any trouble.
12. He finally relented and we ordered our drinks. A young man, who I later realised was the landlord’s son, kindly gave up his stool for me to sit on.
13. My colleague then went to the toilet and I was left feeling rather isolated. However, I tried to be convivial and smile and make everyone around me feel comfortable as there was still rather an awkward atmosphere. On her return I decided that I would go to the toilet too but Val Phillips warned me there were some steep steps and I might find it difficult. As I needed to use the toilets, I decided I didn’t have any alternative as the premises were too small to cater for people with disabilities.
14. I was on my way slowly back upstairs when the landlord appeared from behind. He was very polite and concerned about me having difficulty getting up the steps. He told me a little bit about the history of the building, and we started to chat about the difficulties his business was facing with the pandemic.
15. I apologised if he thought that we were there to cause him any trouble and assured him that our intentions were good. It was then that he confessed that “[he] had been told by the police, as had every pub in the area, not to let anyone in that they didn’t know during that weekend as there might be trouble due to the fact they were expecting a large number of Far-Right groups to be coming up to the area”. Or words to that effect.
16. He also explained that he doesn’t allow any politics in his pub as it’s only very small and he doesn’t want people falling out. I appreciated his point of view. He also did say that he did actually have people booked in as they usually do that. I thought he was trying to make me feel better about what had happened.
17. He further explained that he had had some trouble the night before and was a little wary when we came along. He didn’t explain further and I didn’t ask. I completely understood his point of view. He also said that as a landlord he had the right to refuse entry into his pub to anyone and that he wasn’t discriminating against anyone.
18. To my surprise he said that he was fearful of getting points on his licence and ending up losing it. I asked, “what do you mean?” He explained when there’s ever any trouble in a pub the landlord gets penalised and points put against his licence, and when there’s a certain amount his licence is taken away. At that point I completely understood why he was wary when we turned up.
19. I explained to him that we had heard a similar thing – that, some Far-Right groups were coming up to Batley that weekend and we had decided to keep away from Batley as we did not want to get embroiled in any unrest that might erupt. Being a local candidate, the last thing I wanted was that kind of trouble on our doorstep, or for myself and the party to end up getting a bad reputation. We had a little chat about where we were both from and laughed when we realised, we only lived down the road from each other.
20. I felt the atmosphere had completely changed and I was pleased that things were much more friendly.
21. Val Phillips and I then quickly had a few further sips of our drink and said our goodbyes to everyone. We then had a lovely chat about the election with one of the young men who was having a drink in the pub but who had gone outside to have a cigarette. Then we re-joined the rest the group feeling much more positive about the whole encounter. We discussed our plans for the day, gave everyone a specific job to do leafletting, and then everyone left.
22. On the afternoon of election day, I had arranged to meet up with John Lawrence whom I had met previously during the election campaign, but not before then, to meet up for a half an hour or so because he was going to be at Victoria Market Square, Birstall to do some more filming and interview potential voters. He had come from Oldham to do some freelance journalism throughout the election campaign, and said that it might be a good opportunity to do one last bit of campaigning. So I said that I would join him and his colleague there.
23. I arrived around 4:30pm and met up with him and his colleague, Peter. I do not know his surname. They were chatting with members of the Freedom Alliance Party who had set up a stall there. We introduced ourselves and chatted about how our campaigns were going. I decided to do one final bit of campaigning and spoke for a few minutes through the loud-hailer I had brought with me.
24. I had noticed the landlord sitting by the doorway to his pub with the doors open as it was a very warm day and I decided it would only be the decent thing to do and go and say, “Hello”. He was really warm and welcoming and invited me to sit next to him, so I did. We had a really lovely chat about how I felt the campaign was going and three or four other gentlemen, who were enjoying a beer, joined in the conversation. I said that I was extremely happy about the way it was going and that we had had a lot of very positive feedback, more than I’d experienced in the past. I said that I hoped this would translate into votes but one never knew if that would be the case.
25. I couldn’t have been more delighted that I had now won him over and that people in the pub were more than happy to chat about the election and politics. I recall one gentleman telling me that he didn’t think much of Labour anymore and that he wouldn’t know much about them. I told him that this was the kind of feedback we had been getting, that people were fed up with the Labour party and wanted a change from the usual parties.
26. As I needed to get back home and rest up before I headed to the count later in the evening, I said my farewells and thanked the landlord for his kindness. We shook hands which I found to be a lovely gesture. I said my goodbyes to John Lawrence and everyone else and went home.
27. I arrived at the count around 10:30pm but members of my campaign team were already there for the doors opening at 10:15am. There was some commotion going on with several people in the car park and what appeared to be officials from the Kirklees council and two security guards who were asking them to leave. I recognised two of those involved as they had been filming and reported on the election campaign and had filmed and interviewed me during it.
28. I knew that John Lawrence, one of the reporters was going to be there in the car park as he said he had wanted to do some filming, and I recognised him straight away. I had never met him before this election campaign but I have found him to be an honest and caring person whose only interest is telling the truth and presenting people with the facts.
29. As I was needing a disabled parking spot, I was able to park near the entrance to the building. When I got out of the car, I seem to have been surrounded by people and found it a little intimidating. John Lawrence was happy to see me and he told me that they were being asked to leave as they were not allowed in the car park. I think he said one of their team had been allowed into the main building a little earlier but then was asked to leave when election officials didn’t want them to see what was going on. I later learned that two of their number were registered as journalists with the Workers of England Union.
30. I then saw a member of my campaign team, Graham Moore, who was there as an official guest, and had a pass, walking across from the entrance of the building to try and intervene and provide assistance. Several police officers, I think five in number, approached but did not intervene. I heard him asking a male official, who he was and what authority did he have to demand that these people leave the car park. The official was dressed in a light blue shirt with his sleeves turned up and his tie tucked inside, and dark trousers but no lanyard – as far as I can recall. The official refused to answer but repeated his demand that they leave as they were trespassing. Graham Moore explained that they had a right to be there as they were members of the press and were covering the election count to ensure its integrity.
31. I can recall being at several election counts where no-one was ever asked to leave the car park even though, on one occasion, a large group of males had congregated outside the entrance and had been behaving in a threatening manner – let alone members of the press – so I found this to be rather worrying and unfair.
32. I intervened and spoke to one of the security guards who was becoming rather forceful and asked him what was going on and told him that I thought they had every right to be there. He explained very politely that “[he] was just doing his job”, and I said that I understood his position but disagreed.
33. It was shortly after this that I saw the police officers start to move a little closer and realised that things might turn rather ugly, so I quickly tried to diffuse the situation and explained to the officers what was happening might not be illegal and that I didn’t believe these people were trespassing. I asked one of the male officers, “Have I done anything wrong officer?” He was very polite and said they were just keeping an eye on the situation. I told him that it was my opinion that once any premises had been hired by a local authority for election purposes, they were now public rather than private spaces, except where the counts were taking place, and that members of the press had every right to cover the election process.
34. The officer, again very politely, said that “at the moment this is a civil matter but it is looking as though it might become a criminal one. And once that happens, we will start to make arrests”. As I was rather concerned not to worsen the situation, I thought that I had better leave. I also needed to get into the count and thought there was nothing more I could really do to help. I hoped that things would be resolved and matters not escalate further. I had terrible visions of there being arrests and this being splashed all over the local papers.
35. To make matters worse, I had problems actually getting into the building and through security. Security on the door refused to allow me to bring my small flask of coffee and a can of diet-coke in with me, which was in a tiny white plastic bag. I protested politely and explained that I hadn’t read that I couldn’t bring my own beverages into the venue in the literature I had received from the electoral office and was surprised that they wanted me to leave it in the entrance.
36. I recall quite clearly that reference was only made to bags of a certain size being searched, not that you weren’t able to bring your own drinks in with you. So, it never crossed my mind that I couldn’t bring my own with me. This had never happened to me before. When I attended the verification and count for the West Yorkshire Mayoral Elections at the Leeds Arena, just a few weeks earlier, my bag was searched along with everyone else’s but I was still allowed to bring my own drinks in with me. I just thought they were trying to make my life as difficult as possible for me.
37. I had brought my own drinks with me because I knew the café didn’t open until midnight and I suffer badly from a dry mouth due to the medication I take and always have a drink with me – even in my car. Despite telling the security guards this, they were insistent that I leave them in the entrance. They said I could buy some water when I got inside but I told them that I didn’t like cold water – which is true, as I prefer to drink flavoured water. But that didn’t change their minds. Another official came across, it was the same person who I had seen outside telling the journalists he wanted them to leave, and he asked for my pass and told me I couldn’t take my drinks in and had to leave them at the entrance. I felt a little harassed and bullied by this time.
38. Two members of my team, Antony Connell and Mark Millican, who were already inside the building noticed what was happening as they were expecting me and came to try and reason with security as they could see I was having problems. I took a quick drink from my diet-coke as I was extremely thirsty due to the rather stressful situation, I had found myself in, and decided that there was no point in trying to reason with them and left my drinks and carrier bag on the floor by the wall.
39. The downstairs corridor was quite quiet, and although I had been to that venue before, I wasn’t sure where to go and there were no clear signs. I recognised the place where the previous ballots were counted and went inside to have a look. There was nowhere we could sit and as there wasn’t much going on, we decided to head for the café bar area. I needed to sit down as I have numerous health problems, including problems with my mobility, and use a walking aid, and there were numerous empty tables and chairs we could sit on. Looking back now I wonder whether the lack of seating was to deter people staying in the room too long and observing what was happening.
40. A few minutes later Graham Moore joined us, rather exasperated, and told us more about the situation we had encountered in the car park. To my surprise he informed us that they had video footage of what appeared to be election irregularities with the ballot boxes and ballot papers that were being delivered by truck and cars in an adjacent room, and that they would be taking the matter further.
41. Apparently, they had witnessed postal votes being carried in in bin liners and he had been refused access to witness the opening of the seals on the ballot boxes themselves. As far as I am aware none of this is in keeping with electoral law and procedure.
42. A little later I decided I’d better go see what was happening on the floor of the count. They were conducting the count verification at this time. The hall was largely empty except for those conducting the count. I stopped at the first counting table to watch a young lady sorting out the ballot papers that had been strewn across the table in large piles. I couldn’t work out what she was actually doing, and she was going very slowly, but it appeared to me from the ballot papers that she was sorting them by the cross mark placed against the Conservative candidate. As I thought I must be mistaken, I wandered along to the next desk on my right and saw a similar thing. I did not do or say anything about this at the time, just noted that I thought it was rather odd. I now wish I had.
43. I also noticed that the room wasn’t set out as I was familiar with. The count floors are usually divided clearly into wards within the constituency. There are 6 wards within the Batley and Spen constituency. However, on this occasion the sections were simply divided up into units described as Unit 1 and so on. The labels were placed in the middle of sections, clearly visible. Whereas, in the past the names of the wards would be clearly labelled and visible around the perimeter of each section.
44. As far as I am aware, the ballot boxes arrive at the count from each of the polling stations when the voting has closed and are then sorted by ward and brought to the appropriate counting area on the floor. I do not know what the procedure was in place on this occasion, as it would clearly have had to be done on a more ad hoc basis.
45. Having the areas identified by wards is very useful for candidates and agents as they are able to work out which wards are doing well compared to others. There is a large amount of election data available for candidates and political parties which show patterns of how particular areas within a constituency are prone to vote. Thereby providing very useful indicators for those gathering the data on election night. It is my opinion that this fundamental change to the lay-out was designed purely to keep the counting of the ballot papers as opaque as possible.
46. As I knew it was going to be a long night, I went back to join my colleagues in the café bar area. We chatted to several of the other candidates and members of their teams, who joined us at various intervals throughout the night. I would occasionally pop into have a look at what was happening on the count floor but mainly left this to members of my campaign team.
47. On one of those occasions, I stopped to talk to a couple who were also watching the count and asked them what was going on because I didn’t understand it and was rather confused. I can’t recall which party they were representing but I think it may have been the SDP as they were wearing brown and yellow rosettes. They knew that I had missed the announcement at the start of the proceedings and explained that the ballot papers would be divided into half given the fact that there were a lot of candidates and the ballot papers were longer than usual. I presumed that would mean the top first eight and then the remaining eight candidates listed in alphabetical order according to their surname, as there were 16 candidates standing.
48. This made me rather suspicious, as I thought that would mean that both the Labour and Conservative party candidates would be placed in one pile as they appeared on the bottom half of the ballot paper, and George Galloway’s Workers Party (easily identifiable), including myself and the English Democrats party, as they appeared on the top half, placed on the other. I believe it would have been very easy because of this rather curious procedure to manipulate the results.
49. I do not recall the precise time but it was well after the café bar opened at midnight when I saw a stream of people coming from the floor of the count who either went to queue at the café for food and beverages or went outside. I asked one of the female officials what was happening and she told me that they were having a ten-minute break.
50. I didn’t particularly think too much about it at the time but it was when I had gone to see what was happening on the count floor, straight after that conversation, that I again became concerned. The whole of the count floor was empty and all the ballot papers and ballot boxes had disappeared. I had never seen this happen before despite having attended four previous election counts which were far, far busier than this one.
51. I had recently been a candidate in the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Mayoral Elections which was a far larger event, and at no time was the floor of the count emptied of everything and everybody involved in it.
52. What I had witnessed previously was that those who were opening the ballot boxes and counting the ballot papers, usually went in small groups at intervals throughout the night for short drinks breaks or stayed at their tables. This procedure was followed at the previous Kirklees count I had attended in 2016, at the same premises and in the same room, when there was a bye-election held in the Batley and Spen constituency. So, this completely took me by surprise and raised my suspicions even more.
53. I also found it rather odd given the COVID restrictions and social distancing, that everyone would be told to leave the count floor and the ballot boxes and papers removed. Surely it was better that the toilet breaks were staggered, as was the norm, rather than everyone be sent out together and congregate in an already crowded café bar area I thought. Let alone for reasons of security and transparency.
54. There were two people, a young man and woman, who looked like officials stood chatting close-by on the count floor just yards away from the entrance and I light-heartedly asked where everyone had gone to and explained I found it rather odd. They did not reply, which made me rather uneasy, so I said that “There was no reason for me to stay as there was nothing for me to look at!” I went to the toilet and re-joined my colleagues in the café bar area. I did, however, notice the room where the ballot boxes had been delivered earlier to be rather busy still. The large double doors had glass panes in them and it was easy to see inside. I now wish that I had had a closer look.
55. I mentioned this to my team but they weren’t particularly concerned but then, two had never been to an election count before, and my other colleague, just once.
56. Graham Moore reported back to me on numerous occasions throughout the course of the night that he thought I “was doing really well”, “you’re doing really well you are”, and similar phrases. He was very upbeat that all our election campaigning was seemingly paying off. We had had a huge amount of support this time around from people all over the country wanting to leaflet and do rallies, and other publicity campaigns. Naturally, I found this very encouraging. I had seen several piles of ballot papers with an X by my name but as I hadn’t been in the room for any length of time or gone around the whole of the auditorium due to my mobility problems, I was reliant on my team to give me better feedback.
57. He had, at one point said he wasn’t sure if it meant I’d keep my deposit but that I had a pretty good chance of doing so as there were a lot more ballot papers to be counted. He even stated that he thought “George Galloway was beating Labour and the Conservatives as he had stacks of votes”. We were all very pleased to hear that.
58. So, I decided to go with Graham Moore and have a look for myself. He pointed to large piles of votes on the desks as you went in, which he said were for George Galloway and then the Labour and Conservative piles which were much smaller. And then pointed to similar stacks around the room.
59. Sometime later whilst many people had started to congregate on the floor of the count, as it appeared to be drawing to a conclusion, candidates were called to the back of the hall to inspect the spoilt ballot papers. There were very few and very little disputed, so the process did not take long. I did not dispute any.
60. I recall speaking with a member of George Galloway’s team on the count floor around that time who told me that they had had 2,000 of their campaign posters removed by Kirklees council just days before the election and they thought this was done deliberately and in bad faith, to help the other candidates – Labour and Conservatives – and to damage their candidate and his campaign. I was in full agreement and I said that I’d recalled seeing this in the news and was rather shocked at this, as it seemed to be unfair interference by the Labour held council in the election process. I cannot recall the precise words but this is my broad recollection of our discussion.
61. A little while later another member of George Galloways team, whom I recognised from the general election in 2015 in Bradford West, where I had stood for the first time as a candidate, recounted the same story to me. I think it was his election agent but I am not sure. I said that “I knew [George Galloway] to be a seasoned politician and that I was sure he would be more than able to challenge this”. We laughed when he told me that they actually put them back!
62. At around 4:40-5:00am (I am not sure of the precise time) candidates and agents were all called again to the back of the count floor to look at some printed sheets of paper which alleged to show the provisional results. This had not happened on previous occasions but we were told it was due to a high number of candidates standing, and it would be easier for everyone for the results to be printed out, which I found to be a reasonable explanation.
63. When I tried to find my name on the list, my initial reaction was one of panic and doubt as I thought I had read that I’d had received only 207 votes. I thought that this could not possibly be the case and thought my eyes must have strayed onto another line. So, I looked again having put my glasses on, and used my finger to read along the line but I had read it correctly the first time. I had 207 votes. I was flabbergasted! I turned around and muttered that, “This must be wrong! This couldn’t possibly be correct! I definitely got more votes than that!” I noticed that other candidates and agents had similar concerns and were looking at each other with incredulity.
64. Graham Moore was looking at a separate sheet to the right of me, he is a tall man and was able to see over the bodies of those gathered in front of the table, and we both looked at each other in absolute amazement and disbelief. He had a look of grave concern on his face and said, “This can’t be right! This is not possible! I counted well over a thousand votes; something is definitely wrong!”
65. I had asked Mark Millican who helped me to the back of the auditorium, as I was struggling to walk, to make sure they contacted our party chairman, Robin Tilbrook as I had promised him, I would let him know as soon as the results came out what they were. As we weren’t allowed mobile phones on the floor of the count and not being very mobile, I thought that would be the best course of action. I didn’t see where he went to, nor when Graham Moore left the room.
66. I did notice that the UKIP candidate, Jack Thomson and his agent Mr. Jamie Baker and John Tilt from the Freedom Alliance and his partner were congregating close-by and looked similarly shocked at their results so we had a long chat about it. As were members of the Heritage Party. I told them that even when I stood as a lone candidate in the 2015 general election with no support whatsoever, I managed to get 525 votes, so I thought there was definitely something amiss here.
67. I also explained to them that I came second in Batley and Spen in the 2016 by-election and had recently stood in the West Yorkshire Mayoral elections in May, so the electorate knew who I was and that usually the more a candidate is known in the area the better they tend to do. I also told them that I had had huge support during this election more than any other. I went on to say that when we were leafletting and driving around with the loud-hailer the response was really very positive. Volunteers came from all over the country to help out. I’d never had such support in the past, and I’d done far better this time around. When I stood in the Police Crime Commissioner Elections in 2016, I received 22,000 votes. Nothing seemed to add up at all. We were all stunned and shocked.
68. During these conversations we noticed that there was some dispute about the results and that George Galloway was asking Sharon Salvanos, the Electoral Services Manager, for the ballot papers to be checked.
69. Whilst this was happening, we debated whether to go on the stage when the election results were announced officially but I said that I would not be going because I didn’t want to give them any credibility. I did not believe the results to be accurate but acknowledged that we each had to make our own decision whether or not to go on the stage.
70. After a short while we were all called to gather at the counter again and I heard Sharon Salvanos say that there had been an error when gathering the ballot papers together and declared that the votes they had found would go to the Liberal Democrats’ candidate. I could not quite hear how many or from which candidate these were taken. I think I heard her say the votes were taken from George Galloway but I cannot be certain of that.
71. It was at this point that I heard George Galloway politely but resolutely requesting that there be a full recount given the difference between the Labour Party and Conservative party candidate was less than 1% of the overall votes. This was refused, so he asked again informing them that this was in accordance with electoral law, and that he had a right to request a full recount. Again, it was refused. I did not see where he went after this.
72. I chatted again with John Tilt and his partner about this whole affair at the back of the room. He was not experienced at all in politics and was not familiar with elections and election campaigning. I told him that given all the funding and publicity he had put into his campaign and the support he had had, it seemed pretty impossible that he’d only received a tiny number of votes. The whole thing left us all feeling pretty incredulous and completely bewildered. By that time, I had started to become a little angry about it too as I hate injustice of any kind and I believed that the election was rigged. I still do.
73. Sharon Salvanos approached me and asked that I go with her as she had kindly arranged for me beforehand to go on the stage using the back way to avoid the steps to formally announce the results. As I had decided not to go up on the stage out of protest, I politely declined. I did not give a reason why. She asked again but my decision remained the same.
74. When I saw the Mayor of Kirklees enter the floor of the count, I knew that the election declaration was close. He was quickly followed by the Labour Party candidate, Kim Leadbetter, who had been ushered in at the last minute to accept her win.
75. I was pleased that John Tilt and his partner had stood by me and he too had not gone on the stage to hear the results and acceptance speech. We said our farewells and agreed to contact each other at a later date.
76. My team and I were on our way out, and we had just picked up my flask and other belongings when we noticed that George Galloway was about to give an interview to the press who had begun to surround him, so we stopped to listen, and film, what he had to say.
77. He was clearly upset that the acting Returning Officer had rejected his calls to have a full recount and described the whole process as something belonging to a “banana republic”, going on to say that Kirklees council had taken down 2,000 of his election posters three days before the election on the spurious basis that the imprint lettering was too small and had thereby broken election law. He announced that on the basis of that and other matters, including the refusal to have a full recount, he would be making a request to the High Court to have the results of the election over-turned.
78. I applauded as I felt he was fully justified in saying what he did. His election agent was standing next to me and we again chatted about the posters and the announcement about the High Court challenge. I asked him to tell George Galloway that if he needed any help challenging the election results, I would be more than happy to assist him. I also thought that he should have been allowed the full recount he had asked for as I was reasonably au fait with this part of election law. I believed his request was a reasonable one given the margin of the votes between the Labour and the Conservative candidates was very low and because they had already made a mistake during counting of the batches of ballot papers by placing them in the wrong pile for the wrong candidate.
79. I was then escorted to my car by my team as I was feeling rather unwell by this time and could hardly walk. The two young men from UKIP got in the car with me as neither of them were able to drive. I had offered them a lift to the hotel they were staying in in Morley. They had travelled all the way from Newcastle using public transport throughout their campaign. We chatted and complained all the way to the hotel about what happened and resolved to get in touch at a later date.
80. I arrived home around 7:30am shattered and stunned over what I had witnessed.
81. I also recall something also slightly concerning regarding issues getting hold of the election rolls or register of voters from Kirklees Election Office. I had formally requested electronic copies of the Batley and Spen electoral roll which is available to all candidates who wish to stand in elections so they can identify people in the constituency who are registered and eligible to vote. I had spent all afternoon, along with my sister Helena Slack, asking people for their nomination so I could stand as a candidate in the up-coming Batley and Spen bye-election and had managed to gather the 10 signatures that I required. We were delighted over this and even more so over the positive response we had received from those we had approached for signatures.
82. Virtually every single person chatted about how they had voted Labour all their lives but would no longer be voting for them. One gentleman actually said that if a Labour activist came knocking on his door he would ask them to get off his property and close the door. Many were also concerned over the lack of voice that the English had in their own country and were really delighted that someone was standing to give them that voice.
83. When I returned home late in the afternoon to complete the nomination forms using the electoral roll data that Kirklees Elections Office had sent me I could not find the information I needed. I was unable to find their names on the register. I started to really panic about it. I didn’t feel that I would be physically able to go and get another 10 signatures the next day as my appointment to submit my nomination papers and pay my deposit was on the Wednesday, as I had really pushed myself that day in order to get what I needed. I spent quite some time looking at the electoral roll for the names but could not find them anywhere. I decided to call our party chairman, Robin Tilbrook, to see if he could help. I felt as though he must have thought I was useless if I couldn’t get something so easy right.
84. It was around 7:00pm and the elections office was, of course, closed. Neither of us were successful so we decided that I should call the elections office the following morning – which I did. I do not recall who I spoke to but the lady on the phone said she would look into it and get back to me. A short while later I received a call to say that they were very sorry as it seemed they had omitted large sections of the electoral roll when they sent me the data. She said they would send me the rest of the data straight away. I found this very distressing at the time and was quite sceptical over what had occurred. It is my opinion, from my experience standing in elections, that anyone who stands for the English Democrats gets unfairly treated and life is made quite difficult for them. The only exception was when I stood for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Mayoral Elections in May 2021.
85. I experienced another concerning matter over the passes which were needed to attend the opening of the postal votes which were tabled for Monday, 28 June 2021 and Wednesday, 30 June 2021. I had requested passes for myself and several of my campaign team to attend both the verification and election count but also the opening of the postal votes session. I filled in both forms that were required by the Kirklees Elections Office and sent them to the address given in the information pack in the same envelope. So they must have received both forms.
86. I did not receive any documents from the Elections Office until Saturday, 26 June 2021. I assumed the A4 envelope included both my verification and count passes and my pass to witness the opening of the postal vote ballot papers, so I did not open the envelope that day because I was extremely busy campaigning in the constituency. I did not get the opportunity to discuss the opening of the postal votes with my campaign team and just assumed that those whom I have put down on the form would have received their passes and would attend the Monday session. I reassured myself that if I was too busy to attend the Monday session, one or more of my team would be able to attend, and there was always the possibility of attending the Wednesday session in any event.
87. On Tuesday, 29 June 2021, I received an email from Sharon Salvados at 11:04am saying they were cancelling the Wednesday postal vote opening session as there wasn’t any need to hold the event. And that it would resume Thursday 01 July 2021. It was on the day before the election that I realised I had not been sent my postal vote pass and when I asked other members of my team they confirmed they had not received theirs either and therefore, no-one had attended the postal vote opening session on Monday, 28 June 2021. I found this rather unusual as this had not happened on any previous occasion. Even had we realised this earlier, the elections office did not open again until the day of the event and neither was there any post until the Monday in question.
88. I believe that given the totality of all the evidence in this witness statement that everything that could possibly be done to frustrate the running of a fair and transparent election has been done by the very authorities that are entrusted to conduct our elections in a democracy. These authorities – West Yorkshire Police and Kirklees Council – have targeted specific candidates such as myself and George Galloway in order to affect the return of a candidate at an election in breach of electoral law. And their actions may also be considered as libel or slander.
If you think that is hair-raising, then read on and read what Graham Moore has to say:-
1. I make this statement in support of the Claimant’s case to set aside the election for Batley & Spen Parliamentary Constituency.
2. I was a Project and Site Manager in the construction industry mainly within social housing. I am now a full time social media journalist and commentator and a registered Journalist with the Workers of England Trade Union. I am also a campaigner and supporter of The English Democrats Party standing in the Batley and Spen By-Election on Thursday, July 1st, 2021.
3. I booked a hotel in Bradford City Central from Thursday 24th June till the 2nd July 2021, the hotel is situated 20 minutes from Batley and Spen. It was chosen as a safe location where other campaigners could meet reducing the fear of violence towards us.
4. We deployed our database of supporters in Yorkshire and others areas of England through my channel The Full English Show. We used leaflets, both via the postal service and through campaigns on the ground, social media and loud hailers on top of my car and drove the Spen area (four wards). East Batley and West Batley were regarded as too dangerous and through fear of violence towards our campaigners I was advised by our chairman Robin Tilbrook not to enter the area. I concurred with this advice and we instructed people not to go into these areas. However, the other four remaining wards from the 2011 census had a very high and strong English only Identity (nothing to do with ethnicity or religion), 70% plus of the population regarded themselves as English only National Identity, i.e Not British.
5. I arranged an event at the Victoria Market Square in Birstall, Batley for Saturday 26th June 2021 and to meet at 11am for a 12-noon event. This event was a speech by myself on the people of England’s right to self-determination under international law and the British obligation to respect and promote that right and every Englishman’s duty (via the preamble) to express that to his/her Countrymen. This event included large banners displaying that right in writing and signed and ratified by the British in 1976. Other banners included the Bill of Rights 1688 and the Magna Carta 1215.
6. This event went well, some 30 to 40 people came to say hello and help with campaigning. There were no issues and it was a safe event.
7. That evening through the social media channels I made a request for a meet at the same statue of John Priestly, an Englishman and Yorkshire man who discovered Oxygen in 1733. This meeting was at 11am for 12-noon start, which included a specific area of leafleting and loud hailer communication via the campaign car.
8. Whilst waiting I needed to use the toilet and crossed the road and entered CJ’s Style Bar (Booze Shack). There were a few people in the bar and I approached the barman and asked if I could use his toilet. He said “no, patrons only”. I then asked to buy a drink and he abruptly said, “No, I don’t want your sort in here” I said “your sort?” he said “far right, English Democrats”. I left rather than cause a scene or escalate the situation.
9. I returned to the group after using a betting shop toilet further up the road. I explained to Therese Hirst the candidate and to the group what had happened. Therese Hirst and another lady called Val Phillips then went to the bar to investigate what and why he’d said what he said.
10.The police had visited the bar and told him and other businesses in the area that the English Democrats were a far right group and troublemakers. He was instructed by the police [police visit] not to serve us or allow us to use the facilities.
11. After this we left in a number of cars and headed to our destination, we arrived at the destination at 12.30 in the afternoon and the individual campaigners were given leaflets to hand deliver to a section area. Whilst they delivered I toured the area slowly in the car with the loud hailers giving the message “Vote English, Vote England, Vote Therese Hirst of the English Democrats Party” and a rendition of Dame Vera Lynn “There will always be an England” this message was very popular and local children, adults and workmen came out of their homes to applaud us. Some of this was recorded and was unscripted and not staged and was a spontaneous positive reaction to us.
12.This type of campaigning continued through Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with the addition of leafleting Tesco, Morrison, Aldi and Asda car parks [round robin style, finish last car park start at first again] and continuing the loud hailers and message above.
13.In addition to the above some 40,000 leaflets had been delivered via the Royal Mail personally addressed.
Not allowed to view or check security of postal votes.
The Day of Election and the Count:
14.1st July 2021 the Count. Myself, Mark Millican and Antony Connell were count agents, normally we would be allowed ten count agents and the candidate. We were only allowed three because of Covid policy. We were not allowed access into the ballot box area to view security tabs, seals etc.
15.At approximately 10:15 pm I called Therese Hirst from the count to ask how long she would be. Therese Hirst answered the phone and I heard her say “Have I done something wrong officer, why all these police”. I asked where she was. She sounded in distress. Therese Hirst is quite frail and disabled so I made my way outside to look for her.
16.Therese Hirst was being interviewed by Independent Journalists at least one is registered with the Workers of England trade union as a Journalist. These are Journalists, they are not what is described as Main Stream Media and often do not speak but show live videos as the people themselves interpret what they see. No edits, no bias. Real eyes on the scene.
17.I noted a large security and police presence and made my way over to the area. I heard a man, with a mask and no identification at all, not even a name badge or council tie or insignia demanding the journalists leave. Therese Hirst had not been interviewed by MSM or been invited to any hustings and these Journalists did want to talk to her.
18.The man continued with demanding they leave then said they would be forcibly removed. I asked him on what authority was he acting on and what was his name. He did not state an authority and refused to give his name. I asked him a number of times to give me his name. He refused to identify himself. [Video and still evidence]
19.Therese Hirst was quite distressed and we the count agents escorted her into the count.
20.Inside the count we asked for a chair for Therese Hirst. We were not allowed to check ballot boxes seals, etc. We were barred from postal vote opening too. We had complied with the requests for names and addresses and supplied them in time.
21.The Journalists continued to have issues and left one Journalist was assaulted by security staff, placed in a headlock, and forcibly removed.
22.Inside the count at approximately 11:30pm all ballots boxes had been emptied and the turnout or electorate total votes were being counted. This continued until approximately 2am and the turnout recorded as 47%.
23.At this time the ballot count area was cleared of election agents, which concerned us. The ballots were taken and removed.
24.At this time the man with no name that refused to identify himself was around in the empty count area and in the café area where the double doors to the car park was opened and a large luton type wagon with a tail lift pulled up by the double doors, some large trolley cages with ballot boxes were loaded into the wagon and strangely a large quantity of white bags labelled used PPE. I thought this was suspicious and videoed the area and the bags, the men did not like me looking at what they were doing. Staring at me. Usually clinical waste (PPE for Coronavirus) would be in orange or yellow bags. These were white bags and I thought it an odd time to remove them in the middle of a count and at a time that all count agents were expelled from the count area. We had no idea what was in the boxes being removed or in the bags, during a count.
25.We went into the count area and followed the instructions of a one way system. We could clearly see up to 60 people counting on both sides of the hall. Roughly six out of 16 candidates were receiving votes by volume. The Conservative Party, George Galloway Workers Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, English Democrats and one or two others.
26.What I witnessed was George Galloway matching the votes for The Labour Party, it was striking and clear and I would have said George Galloway was in front from my continuing observation. It was obvious that the clear winner was The Conservative Party. With a spilt vote between the Workers Party and The Labour Party. The Liberal democrats were higher than noted in the result. A lot higher.
27.We continued watching George Galloway and English Democrats. The English Democrats Party were doing well and early in the actual count one table of the sixty had a group of votes with a note on saying 43. This was within 30m of the count starting. So by 2.30am. Every table had piles of English Democrats ballots, so much so, that even a cursory 10 per count table would have been 600 + votes. The votes continued and we were all encouraged by what we saw. We were on course to retain our deposit. Which is significant in political terms.
28.Upon being called to the communication point at approx. 5.30am we were shown a piece of paper with the count totals and I was shocked, so shocked I had to return twice as I was tired I thought I had made a mistake or they had. The English Democrats Party total was 207. That figure is not what I witnessed during the count. I thought they had missed a one off in a typo. . Then I saw the other results and especially George Galloway’s. I immediately called foul play.
29.I do not agree with George Galloway’s politics but I respect his integrity and sincerity of his beliefs, he is genuine in his belief.
30.As an experienced count agent; what I witnessed at the count and what the council’s tallies gave us as a final figure, I would state the council’s totals were grossly inaccurate and I would say fraudulent. They were shockingly inaccurate and arrogantly and fraudulently presented. I have attended many counts and this count was by far the worst I have ever witnessed. Count agents were deliberately hindered from their duties to ensure fair election.
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