January 18, 2021 1.38 pm This story is over 10 months old

Lincoln MP hits back at “politically-motivated” complaint which got him judges’ reprimand

“I do not believe in censorship”

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney said that a complaint which resulted in him being formally warned for promoting his role as a magistrate ahead of the 2019 general election was “politically motivated”.

However, he said he “would not want to have this argument again” and called for clearer guidance before the next national poll.

Mr McCartney revealed the complaint was made by a “fellow Lincolnshire Magistrate” and University of Lincoln lecturer, but did not name them.

“I believe, and always have done, that it is imperative electors should be able to judge an election candidate and their integrity through what they have done, do, and have been involved with,” he said.

“My public service as a school governor, various positions and trusteeships with a plethora of charities, and my service as a magistrate on three different benches is a matter of public record, as is my former joint chairmanship of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for magistrates.”

“I do not believe in censorship,” he added.

Karl McCartney’s “About Karl” section on his website mentions the role.

Mr McCartney has been a Justice of the Peace for nearly 25 years.

He said the Lord Chancellor in 2005 had changed the guidance and rules and that they had not reverted back since.

He said  “the reality is that I proved to the panel […] there was nothing to complain about, as the guidance from 2005 is still relevant.”

However, the panel came to a different conclusion, giving him a formal warning.

“The British judicial system has an onus on the accuser, and those trying the accused, of proving wrongdoing. If not proven or if there is benefit of doubt, then the finding is surely ‘not guilty’,” said Mr McCartney.

However, he added: “Saying all the above, I would not want to have this argument again. If the guidance is made clearer before the next general election, I will of course review my mentioning of being a JP in election literature.”

Here is Karl McCartney’s statement in full:

“Over a year ago one fellow Lincolnshire Magistrate, who is a Lecturer at the University of Lincoln, made a politically motivated complaint that a leaflet from me prior to the December 2019 General Election had made it clear I had served, and still am, a Justice of the Peace, a Magistrate.

“I believe, and always have done that it is imperative electors should be able to judge an election candidate and their integrity through what they have done, do, and have been involved with. My public service as a school governor, various positions & Trusteeships with a plethora of charities, and my service as a Magistrate on three different Benches is a matter of public record, as is my former Joint Chairmanship of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Magistrates. I do not believe in censorship.

“The Lord Chancellor in 2005 agreed with me, and I received direct notification from him that he was imminently changing the Guidance and Rules for the Judiciary, and Magistrates, which he did. For the record, he did not reprimand me. That guidance has not been rescinded, nor usurped, by subsequent Lord Chancellors, including the current one. If I had done wrong and refused to admit it, I would surely have been removed as a Magistrate by the Civil Servants and those acting on their behalf.

“The conclusion is clear to those who are aware of the full facts. I have always said that if a Justice of the Peace uses their position as a Magistrate to their own betterment, or to offer favour, then they have no business being a Magistrate. After a year of procrastination, the reality is that I proved to the Panel representing the Department that there was nothing to complain about, as the Guidance from 2005 is still relevant. Unfortunately, that does not fit with the conclusion they came to, hence the statement published on their website.

“The British judicial system has an onus on the accuser, and those trying the accused, of proving wrongdoing. If not proven or if there is benefit of doubt, then the finding is surely ‘not guilty’. Saying all the above, I would not want to have this argument again. If the guidance is made clearer before the next General Election, I will of course review my mentioning of being a JP in election literature. However, it is quite clear that many people in Lincoln are aware that I have been a Magistrate for nearly 25 years.”

Spotted an error? Please notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.