West Norfolk election candidate hits out at name ruling

West Norfolk Green Party election candidates.''Parliamentary Candidate: Michael De Whalley ANL-150316-084754009
West Norfolk Green Party election candidates.''Parliamentary Candidate: Michael De Whalley ANL-150316-084754009

An election candidate has hit out at what he called “bureaucracy gone mad” in a row over how his name will appear on the ballot paper.

Michael de Whalley claims he has been barred from contesting the North West Norfolk seat under his commonly known name because of a new directive from the Electoral Commission.

Instead, the Green Party candidate has been forced to campaign under his full name, Andrew Michael de Whalley

He said: “It was the only way my nomination papers would be accepted. Election materials have already been prepared and delivered saying vote for ‘Michael de Whalley’.

“If I were commonly known as Mike or Dave then that would be accepted, but not Michael.

“This is government bureaucracy gone mad.”

The dispute relates to a section of election law on how candidates’ details should appear on election papers.

An Electoral Commission spokesman yesterday said he could not comment on the change, which he said had been instigated by the Cabinet Office.

However, guidance issued to Mr de Whalley by the commission, which the Lynn News has seen, said: “The legislation makes it clear that a commonly used name is one which is different from any other forename or surname.

“This means that a forename in its original format cannot be used as a commonly used name. If a candidate wishes to use a commonly used forename and/or surname then these must be different from their full name as it appears on the nomination paper.”

The new directive was issued earlier this month and the commission says it is writing to all political parties to ensure they are aware of the new requirements.

But Mr de Whalley has branded the decision as “bizarre” and fears he, and many other candidates across the country, could be disadvantaged by the move.

He said he had previously lost out on votes when he first stood for election to the borough council in 2007, when he was also listed as Andrew Michael de Whalley on the ballot paper.

He has now written to the government to urge them to reverse the rule before polling day on May 7.

He said: “I am, and have always been, known as Michael, not Andrew, and I believe it is reasonable to ask that Michael appears on the ballot paper, as my commonly used name, as it has done previously.”