“Put up or shut up” was the message from Councillor Tony Hooke after being questioned yesterday over alleged bribery issues.
In an interview with Andover Town, Councillor Hooke explained how his offer to help local charity Neighbourcare has been suggested as “bribing the electorate” – an offence under the Representation of the People Act 1983 section 113.
He said “Over the last 6-8 weeks there has been a witch-hunt to try and get something on me by others. This has led to most aspects of my business and personal life being checked out however the only item they could find against me were two lines in the Andover Advertiser where I said I would give my county allowance to Neighbourcare, a local charity.”
“Before the election I was told this was a very noble gesture. I made it clear that it was no gesture but a protest against the cuts Hampshire County Council had forced on Neighbourcare.”
Asked whether he thought he had broken the law he said “I do not believe for one moment I have broken the law. However if the people of Andover South feel I have transgressed the spirit of the law then they should have the right to recall me”.
He then explained how he firmly believe in the right to recall politicians and councillors and that if 20% of the electorate in Andover South wanted it, he would stand to fight his seat again.
“I would like to get on with my job as councillor so I would say to those trying to stop me, now is the time to put up or shut up”.