Politicians telling deliberate lies to mislead the public should be disqualified from standing for election, according to Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price.
He has published a new draft law which would make deliberate lying by politicians a criminal offence.
Called the Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill, the legislation would see elected politicians in the European, Westminster and Welsh and Scottish parliaments face criminal charges if they knowingly mislead the public.
The bill says: “It shall be an offence for an elected representative acting in their capacity, or an agent acting on their behalf, to make or publish a statement they know to be misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular.”
Pointing to the collapsing trust in the leaders of Labour and Tory parties, Mr Price said that this would be a way to restore faith in an age of “fake news, fake views and fake figures”.
It would be a political version of the Trade Descriptions Act, which was put in place over 50 years to stop companies misleading consumers, he said.
Politicians would be able to get away with it under the Bill if they could show that:
- They did not know, or could not reasonably have been expected to know that the statement was misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular;
- They had no part in causing or permitting the statement to be published;
- They took all reasonable care to ensure that the statement was accurate; or
- They acted in the interests of national security.
“People have lost faith in our politics, and we have a duty to restore it before it’s too late,” Adam Price said.
“It’s depressing that it has come to this, but if we need a law to stop politicians from lying then that is what should be in place.
“I proposed a similar draft law over ten years ago, when the lies that led to the dreadful Iraq war were surfacing. Our politics, once again, faces a crisis of confidence thanks to the fake news, fake views and fake figures that have been peddled, particularly by the main two Westminster parties.
“Over half a century ago we made it illegal for companies to lie to us with the Trade Descriptions Act. Sadly, it looks like now we need the same principle to apply to politicians.
“Honesty is the most important currency in politics. We have to protect it, before it reaches moral bankruptcy.”