Election leaflet in police probe

Ed Houlton
Ed Houlton

A WIGAN election candidate has been reported to police over his election leaflet claim, we can reveal.

Conservative candidate Ed Houlton wrongly describes himself as a serving councillor in his latest communication which has gone out to hundreds of voters of the Lowton East Ward.

But, in reality. he lost his seat when he was defeated in the town hall elections in 2010.

The leaflet has been reported to the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police as a breach of the Representation of the People Act by rival candidate in Golborne Peter Franzen, who is also a former councillor bidding to make a return to the council chamber for the Community Action Party.

Mr Franzen is also claiming that Mr Houlton says that he still lives in the Lowton East constituency, when he is estranged from his wife at their home and lives with his parents in Golborne.

Mr Houlton was a former Community Action Party councillor himself who defected mid-term to the Conservatives before eventually losing the seat last year.

Police today acknowledged receipt of Mr Franzen’s complaint and Wigan Council head of legal services John Mitchell said: “The conduct of candidates during an election campaign is not a matter for the council and therefore Mr Franzen has taken the correct course of action. On this basis it would be inappropriate for the council to comment.”

Mr Franzen has laid a formal complaint against Mr Houlton and the promoter of the election leaflet, sitting Lowton Conservative Coun James Grundy.

He said today: “This is a serious matter which I have reported to the police.”

The borough Conservative Federation said that the use of the word ‘Councillor’ in a headline on the leaflet was not a deliberate attempt to deceive but a “printer’s error.”

He said that it only came to light after the election communication was printed and distributed and therefore there was nothing that they could do to alter it.

The spokesman said: “Using the word councillor was a genuine mistake and nothing more than that. Although Ed and his wife are separated, like all good fathers, he continues to spend a lot of time at his former matrimonial home helping her to look after their autistic daughter.

“I am sure that if Police feel that ex-Coun Franzen’s complaint is worth investigating we will co-operate fully, as always.”

LOWTON East candidates: I. Franzen (CAP); P. Gilligan (Lab); E Houlton (Con).