Make it illegal for politicians to tell deliberate lies to mislead the public, Plaid Cymru leader says

Adam Price. Credit: Euan Cherry/WENN

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.

 

‘Fake news’

“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.”

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Dave Brooker
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Dave Brooker

They’ll all end up in jail

Ben
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Ben

No one in public office should lie, even white ones that help people like we do day to day.

To pass a bill against it would create another problem which you must answer first:
What is a lie? Who chooses how it is defined? Over time how will the definition of a lie be redefined for political aims?

Alan Bond
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Alan Bond

A lie is anything written in the Sun which was said by or about a tory politician. That’s how the tories win elections. It used to be the Daily Mail before the war but they have now been joined by the rest of the gutter press. i.e. most of it

Wexit
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Wexit

Adam Price just loves to play to the gallery doesn’t he?

Gesture politics once again, appealing to a wider audience in England once again, as all his TV debates seemed to be about in truth??

This is a complete non-starter. A ridiculous idea.

Who would decide who lied where, when and to whom? Would it be a ‘people’ s court’ in his socialist utopia??

Adam, we’ve already got an answer to this problem. If politicians lie and dissemble, we just vote them out next time!

You could argue that democracy could be distilled into one sentence:’Kick the bastards out’.

Chris G
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Chris G

Kick them out? I see the infamous liar to Queen, country and Parliament is still standing. His party over the past week or two has published around 6400 political ads on Facebook, over 5000 were misleading or not factual. That’s 89% of all ads put out by the Conservatives over the past 2 weeks are false. Yet they’re likely to win. Obviously your idea that they’d just get kicked out doesn’t hold up to any scrutiny.

Iona Sinclair
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Iona Sinclair

Its called fact-checkers, and with an independent regulatory body just like the ASA for commercial advertising it can be regulated.

Jim
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Jim

100% but needs a punishment for breaking the law that has teeth. Like banned from politics for live, large fine and prison time.

Walter Hunt
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Walter Hunt

Totally agree with the sentiments behind this, but have serious misgivings. Do we really live in a world where the rich and powerful and well connected can’t buy and escape justice and where those who sit in judgement are never swayed by their own political prejudices or loyalties? If it were workable and effective, wouldn’t this law just drive more lying by proxy though leaks and anonymous sources and greater use of and sophistication in viral fake news, alternative facts and conspiracy genres. The best court for politicians has to be the judgement of the electorate.

Ernie The Smallholder
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Ernie The Smallholder

When the law your proposing says ‘… in the interests of National Security’ I hope your referring to a post-independent Wales.
I will not support this if there is any way that this can be used by the UK to strengthen its hold on Wales and Scotland.

You know there are still too much imperialism and fascism around in the UK.

Donald Lehr
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Donald Lehr

Sounds like a good plan.Just have 2 put some teeth to it so our selfserve politicans get it.

Alan Bond
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Alan Bond

You missed out the word ‘TORY’ in your sentence. Also includes TORY BLAIR

Ant
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Ant

Wonder if they’ll create a legal loophole at the same time ??