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UUP's Beattie left red-faced over illegal election posters

By Adrian Rutherford

An Ulster Unionist candidate has apologised after putting up campaign posters which did not name his election agent - in breach of the law.

Police contacted Doug Beattie, who is standing in Upper Bann, about the error.

Candidates are legally required to display an imprint that includes the name of the printer and their election agent on their placards.

It is an offence not to include this information.

Mr Beattie said: "I have been informed that a number of my election posters, which had been recycled from previous elections, did not have an imprint which included the name of the printer and my current election agent.

"As the candidate I have to take full responsibility and apologise to anyone who was offended by my original recycled posters.

"Someone took the time to contact the police and as soon as they made me aware of the issue I acted swiftly and have removed the offending posters and replaced them with new posters which do bear the correct imprint."

A PSNI spokesman said: "Police were made aware and the individual concerned is taking steps the rectify this issue."

The Electoral Commission said: "The requirement for an imprint is set out in the Representation of the People Act (RPA) 1983 as applied by the Northern Ireland Assembly (Elections) Order 2001 (as amended).

"This places a legal requirement on the candidate and/or their agent to ensure that an imprint is included on their campaign materials.

"It is an offence if an imprint is not included.

"We have produced guidance for candidates on campaigning which includes information on imprints.

"As this would be a breach of the RPA 1983, the responsible body for investigating would be the PSNI."

An Electoral Commission handbook entitled 'Guidance for candidates and agents' states: "An imprint should be added to all campaign material and, in the case of printed material, must be added by law, to show who is responsible for its production.

"It helps to ensure that the campaign is transparent."

The guide adds: "On printed material, such as leaflets and posters, you must include the name and address of the printer (and) the publisher.

"You can use either home or office addresses."

Earlier this week Mr Beattie had been critical of the DUP candidate in the same constituency, David Simpson, over an error in his election literature.

Mr Simpson blamed a "printing error" for an inaccurate claim in his promotional leaflet about visiting soldiers in Afghanistan.

An election leaflet for Mr Simpson stated he had "visited British troops on the front line of Afghanistan".

The former Upper Bann MP was due to visit in 2010 but was prevented from going to the war-torn country because he was too big to fit in a flak jacket.

As a result, the Army prevented him from travelling.

Mr Beattie had said: "One would have thought that Mr Simpson would have read his own election leaflet prior to publication" and raised the issue.

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