A LABOUR Council Leader caught-up in the scandal surrounding MP Charlotte Nichols’ alleged electoral fraud, has been charged with falsifying nomination papers.
Earlier this year, Cheshire Constabulary received information relating to the Warrington local council elections 2021 – after having already decided to seek to prosecute MP Charlotte Nichols for a similar alleged offence during the 2019 General Election.
“Detectives launched an investigation into the matter and, following advice received from the CPS, a number of charges have now been authorised” police confirmed.
“Russell Bowden has been charged with one count of providing a false statement in nomination papers (contrary to Section 65A of the Representation of the People Act 1983) and three counts of providing false information to a registration officer (contrary to section 13D of the Representation of the People Act 1983).”
The news comes after VoteWatch exclusively revealed that Bowden’s close friend and colleague, Labour MP Charlotte Nichols also lied about her place of residence at the time of applying to be a Parliamentary candidate for Warrington North.
Council Leader Bowden worked extensively to get Miss Nichols elected in the 2019 election for Warrington North – even allowing her to falsely record her address as being inside the constituency.
Lying on her ‘Statement of persons nominated’ for the election on December 12th, 2019, however, Nichols recorded her address as being in Burtonwood, Warrington – the home of Labour Deputy Council leader of Warrington, Cathy Mitchell. Nichols signed this legal document as being a truthful statement that she lived in Burtonwood, and the notice of nominations was then published on 14th November, 2019.
The truth, however, is that MP Charlotte Nichols didn’t live in Warrington at all, but at the time had only stayed in the area on a temporary basis whilst campaigning. In fact, MP Nichols recorded elsewhere that at the time of her nomination papers being completed, and even during her campaign, she still lived in her 2 bed flat 180 miles away in Islington, London.
As VoteWatch has now verified via the electoral roll and the Land Registry database, Nichols had not only lived in the 2 bed apartment on Canonbury Road, in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency, for at least a year, but continued to live there during her campaign – even ordering her election leaflets to that very same address.
The dates on these invoices to her home address in Islington are the 13th November, 2019, and the 20th – both AFTER she falsely recorded on her nomination papers that she lived in Warrington.
Purchasing campaign literature from printing firm ‘LeafletFrog’, Nichols recorded her address as being the flat in Islington, and had the election leaflets sent there on at least two occasions during her campaign.
Should Nichols have truly been living permanently in Warrington as she stated on her nomination papers, it is beyond any logic or reasoning as to why she would order campaign literature intended for use in Warrington, to her address 180 miles away in Islington, if not for the fact that she lived there.
Furthermore, VoteWatch has verified that receipts submitted by Nichols herself as part of her election expenses clearly show her as having rented an Air B&B in Warrington on 15th November, 2019 – once again AFTER she signed a legal document claiming she lived in Warrington North.
Police initially confirmed that they had launched an investigation, with full details not provided, and the story being completely absent from the mainstream media.
Shockingly, after a copy of the letter sent by Cheshire Police to one of the complainants was forwarded to VoteWatch, we can now confirm that Police will be taking no further action, with the constabulary citing their intention to prosecute, but giving the reason not to do so as being that they ran out of time.
Waiting until the very last hour, the letter references the Coronavirus pandemic as a contributing factor/excuse for not wishing to prosecute, saying that they had gathered a ‘large amount of material’, yet that their investigation ‘had to be balanced against the backdrop of the COVID pandemic and the disruption this caused to both policing and the wider public.’
They also confirmed that, having a large volume of evidence, they had applied to extend the time limit to conclude their investigation, to help them form a stronger case to prosecute Nichols and the Council leader of Warrington Council, Russell Bowden, who (along with the Deputy leader whom Nichols claimed to have been living with) had signed Nichols’ papers as a nominee. Yet their request was shockingly rejected by a Judge at Warrington Magistrates Court.
“Cheshire Constabulary has considered appealing this decision, however having sought legal advice, an appeal is likely to be unsuccessful”, the Police force confirmed.
A further FOI submitted by VoteWatch revealed that, during the entire election period Nichols claimed to have been living full-time in Warrington, and up to as late as March 2020, she only ever bought return tickets from London to Warrington; all purchased from London, and not Warrington North.
This year, a Labour Councillor, Chaudhary Mohammed Iqbal was jailed for 17 months after committing the exact same crime as MP Nichols and Councillor Bowden are alleged to have committed – lying about his address on his nomination papers to help win his seat.
Council Leader Bowden is set to appear at Crewe Magistrates’ Court on Friday 31st December, 2021.
Throughout our investigation, Warrington Borough council has refused to comment or provide any requested information.
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