The dispute began with Mr Pugh – former Isle of Wight Conservative council leader between 2007 and 2013 – writing to Vix Lowthion, the agent for the Freshwater North and Yarmouth Green Party candidate Daniel James.
Mr Pugh accused Mr James of “misleading the electorate” in his letter to residents of the Freshwater North and Yarmouth ward, something Mr James refutes.
What the letter says
Daniel James’ letter to residents states,
“I’d like to say thanks for electing me in 2017 as your parish Councillor and welcome to the new residents of our ward. Yarmouth, Bouldnor, Cranmore, Ningwood, Thorley and Wellow are now included with Freshwater North …”
He finishes the letter by saying,
“In 2017 I received 43% of your votes for the county council election.”
Pugh: Vote was not for that ward
In an email thread seen by News OnTheWight, Mr Pugh argues that the Green Party candidate did not receive 43% of the votes of the ward he is writing to, as the ward he stood for in 2017 was the smaller ward of Freshwater North (not including Yarmouth, Bouldnor, Cranmore, Ningwood, Thorley and Wellow).
The Chairman of the Island Conservatives went on to say that he’d been contacted by residents in Wellow and Yarmouth who, “shared my concern that Mr James has made this false statement, given that it is seeking to mislead voters that (a) he was a candidate in their area last time and (b) received a percentage share along the lines suggested”.
In his email, Mr Pugh cited Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, making the point that making a “false statement” is considered an illegal practice.
Stepping in to the email thread to respond, Mr James disputes Mr Pugh’s interpretation of “illegal practice”, adding that his canvassing letter to residents makes it clear the boundary had been changed for the 2021 election and that in the previous election (2017) he stood for Freshwater North.
Mr Pugh has called for an apology to be sent to all residents in the Yarmouth, Bouldnor, Cranmore, Ningwood, Thorley and Wellow wards, which Mr James has refused to do, “since no false statement was made” telling Mr Pugh,
“I would recommend that is unwise to accuse others of dishonesty.”
James: “I will defend my integrity”
Mr Pugh says he is considering “what further steps to take”, but not before bringing Mr James’ professional life into it, in the email thread.
Mr James said he takes his reputation seriously and will defend his integrity, adding that he was disappointed claims of lies and deception are being ramped up.