Reform candidate ‘will not withdraw’

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Political newcomer Sarah Westwater has been reported to the Attorney General over concerns about the order in which her nomination form was completed, and a court hearing is due to be held on Thursday.

She said that each of her nominators were fully aware of her party allegiance and that the error was down to an ‘administrative oversight’ in filling out the date on her form.

However, the JEP understands that there may also be an issue as to when Reform Jersey chairman Deputy Sam Mézec signed the form confirming Ms Westwater’s party allegiance.

Under election law, candidates standing in affiliation with a political party must complete a party declaration form before their proposer and nine seconders formally endorse their nomination.

Ms Westwater said that she had entered the date on her party declaration form as Wednesday 11 April – the date she was to hand her nomination in to St Lawrence Parish Hall, rather than the date she completed that section of the form.

She said those who signed her paper had filled in her papers before that date, making it appear that she had completed her party declaration after her nominators had formally endorsed her.

However, officials at St Lawrence Parish Hall noticed that a large portion of her nominations paper had been filled in before Deputy Mézec had signed the official party declaration notice.

There is no suggestion from Attorney General Robert MacRae that Ms Westwater’s nominators did not know she was standing for Reform Jersey – instead that the law was not complied with, as some of her seconders had signed the form before Deputy Mézec.

Ms Westwater is one of 18 candidates put forward by Reform Jersey after St Brelade Constable hopeful Marilyn Carré withdrew from her election race amid similar concerns.

She said: ‘It was quite clear to them [her nominators] that I was running for Reform Jersey.

‘It has not yet been clear to me what I have to do next but I will certainly be going back to my nominators and making them aware of the current situation.

‘I have absolutely no intention of pulling out of the election.

‘When I presented my form to my nominators I had put the date of the nominations night on it. I had signed it in advance and it was clearly understood by them what I stood for.

‘If the court decides that is against the rules, then I would find it grossly unfair. It is an administrative oversight and shouldn’t really be an issue.’

Reform Jersey chairman Deputy Sam Mézec, who is standing for one of eight Senatorial seats, said the party was frustrated that they had not been told by the Law Officers’ Department that there had been a complaint and as a result could not comment further.

Ms Westwater is competing alongside Kirsten Morel and Gregory Guida for one of two seats in St Lawrence.

However, the Royal Court will be asked to rule on whether Ms Westwater’s nomination remains valid and whether the election should go ahead.

Last week Mike Jackson was elected unopposed as St Brelade Constable after Miss Carré pulled out of the contest.

Concerns were raised over whether Miss Carré’s proposer and nine seconders had been aware she was running as a Reform Jersey candidate as she had not fully filled out her party declaration before they had signed.

She said that those who signed her form had been aware that she was standing as a Reform Jersey candidate.

Miss Carré could have been allowed to stand had her nominators attended court and confirmed they were aware of her party affiliation when signing the form.

However, she instead opted to withdraw.

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