Would it be nice if our elected representatives were required to be honest? Well, a private member’s bill has just been published which, if it became law, would make it an offence for MPs, members of the devolved assemblies, MEPs and elected mayors (or agents acting on their behalf) to make, or publish a statement they know to be false, misleading, or “deceptive in a material particular”.
Someone accused of this offence can raise the following defences:
- they did not know, or could not reasonably have been expected to know, the statement was false, misleading or deceptive in a material particular.
- they had no part in causing or permitting the statement to be made or published.
- they took all reasonable care to ensure the statement was accurate.
- they acted in the interests of national security.
If found guilty, they face a fine and being barred from standing for election for up to 10 years.
An offence of making false, frivolous or trivial accusations of deception is also created, punishable by a fine.
Being a private member’s bill it is unlikely to get very far, but would any of our political parties be willing to include in in their manifestos for election? It might provide a means for restoring trust in the political system.