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Conservative Candidate Accused of Misusing Magistrate Title AGAIN as He Campaigns for Re-Election

Restanding Conservative candidate for Lincoln Karl McCartney has previously been criticised for the same trick

Photo: Avpics / Alamy Stock Photo

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A Conservative parliamentary candidate previously rapped by a regulator for using his magistrate’s title on political materials has once again been caught in the again – this time campaign for re-election.

A leaflet from former Lincoln Conservative MP Karl McCartney sent to constituents at the end of May, uses his title as a magistrate, “JP” – or Justice of the Peace. 

The MP has already been reprimanded over the same tactics twice before, according to the Judicial Conduct Investigation Office, which in 2021 suggested he had abused the title of his impartial office for party political gain.

Prof Colin Talbot, emeritus professor of government at the University of Manchester, said it was inappropriate to use the Justice of the Peace title on party mailouts: “It is very important in our system of Government to keep politics and justice as separate as possible, to avoid even the perception of political bias in judicial decisions. 

“That is why it’s best to avoid using the Justice of the Peace title in party political material.” 

One of the leaflets sent to Lincoln residents

A spokesperson for the official Judicial Office, which exists to “promote and safeguard judicial independence to maintain confidence in the rule of law,” told Byline Times: “The Guide to Judicial Conduct advises magistrates that the initials ‘JP’ may be used on private and business letterheads etc in the same way as academic or professional qualifications. They should not be used for the furtherance of trade, professional, business, or political interests.

“There is a statutory process that Conduct Advisory Committees follow In the event of any complaints about magistrates. We cannot comment on conduct matters.” 

Lincoln resident Mark Allen, who received the leaflet, told Byline Times: “The Judicial Conduct Investigation Office gave him a formal warning for referring to his judicial role on two occasions, using his status ‘with the appearance of seeking to gain advantage’. 

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“I have just received a second letter, again with a questionnaire from Karl McCartney on House of Commons headed paper with JP MP on it.”

The second leaflet, which Mark Allen says he received on 3rd June, also contains the letters “JP” prominently at the top – as well as “MP.” If it was sent after the dissolution of Parliament, the title Member of Parliament would be incorrect, as there are officially no Members of Parliament until after the election on 4th July (only candidates). That is to ensure a level playing field in terms of status when running for office.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson said: “We do not regulate or provide advice on the use of House of Commons stationery by Members of Parliament. Information on the use of House of Commons stationery can be found on the UK Parliament website:”

A spokesperson for Parliament’s Standards Commissioner said they couldn’t do anything until after the election – if Mr McCartney was re-elected. A statement on the Commissioner’s website reads: “From 00:01 on the day of dissolution there are no Members of Parliament (MPs) until after the General Election.

“The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (‘the Commissioner’) cannot investigate complaints about anything that takes place between the start of dissolution and the date of a general election, and he cannot investigate complaints about the conduct of candidates during the election campaign. 

“During the dissolution period, the Commissioner cannot consider complaints about anything that took place before the start of dissolution.” 

UPDATE

Press Watchdog Writes to Conservatives and Party Chairs Over ‘Misleading’ Fake Newspapers

The party is “misleading voters into believing what they are reading is the work of local journalists from independent publications”

Last August, the same Conservative MP’s campaign tactics were branded “appalling” by one of Britain’s most renowned photojournalists after he imitated a shuttered local newspaper to garner votes.

Lincoln Conservative MP Karl McCartney issued a leaflet to residents branded as the ‘Lincoln Chronicle’ – the same name as a weekly newspaper in the seat that was closed 15 years ago, and which many residents remember.

Dr Mike Maloney OBE, one of the UK’s most decorated photographers and a Lincolnite who began his career at the real Lincoln Chronicle in the 1970s, told Byline Times the fake newspaper was “typical of politicians”. He added it represented the idea of “never letting the facts interfere with a good story.”

“It was very, very sad when the Chronicle closed. I started my career there decades ago. At one time it was a great paper,” Dr Maloney said, adding that the decision by the local Conservatives to imitate the defunct paper was “appalling.”  

Lincoln resident Sasha Drennan told Byline Times the party was “at it again” after this site revealed the Conservative Party’s widespread use of fake newspapers to promote their candidates. It seems to be becoming a strategy. 

Karl McCartney did not respond to a request for comment. 


Byline Times is relaunching our VoteWatch project to monitor disinformation, dodgy campaigning, and dark money during the 2024 General Election. Get in touch if you have a tip off or any insights: votewatch24@bylinetimes.com

If you have another political story or tip-off, email josiah@bylinetimes.com.


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