Posted by: John | November 6, 2010

The Phil Woolas saga: What’s to happen to Mr Fitzpatrick?

As far as I’m aware an electoral agent is:

`the person responsible in law for the proper managementof your election campaign. In particular, the election agent is responsible for all the financial aspects of your election. An election could be brought into question if yourelection agent does not perform their duties promptly and correctly.`

That’s what it says on the Electoral Commission website. So, according to them, he/she is basically an `accountant`.

I only ask as there’s one Mr Fitzpatrick who was Phil Woolas’s agent at the last election.

This case will surely test to the limit the role of an agent. I’ve always been told that it’s not only to do with the financial aspects but an agent is liable for the legal side of it too. If Mr Fitzpatrick is not admonished in some way it will surely mean that that advice (which is relayed up and down the country in Lib Dem circles) is wrong.

To be honest, I’ve never understood why it would be the agent that gets it in the neck if something libellous is put out and not the candidate.

So can we have a clarification please – if Mr Fitzpatrick is just left to carry on after all this then surely it’s simply the financial aspects of the campaign that can come into question and not the actual literature?

This is important for another reason – we don’t have people queueing up to be agents (no party does). If this could be cleared up and the agent’s outer face is simply the level-headed accountant we might be able to find more people to do the job!

Instead, we seem to be doing ghost impressions `woooh, you might get banged up in jail` that scare people off.




  1. Paragraph 17 of the full judgement (PDF download link here: ) explains why the judges did not consider the case against Mr Fitzpatrick. From my reading of it, it seems that this is because Elwyn Watkins’ legal team did not pursue the allegations that they made against him in the Petition.

  2. Yes i see that now – however, I know of one agent who has his collar felt due to a volunteer producing a few leaflets without an imprint. What are the Police doing about it?

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