A Conservative Party election agent falsified candidate nomination forms in the 2018 local elections, a court heard today.
Diana Danescu, 28, allegedly obtained voters’ signatures ‘under false pretences’ by posing as a representative from the Labour Party and The Green Party.
Danescu is said to have carried out the offences during her role as an election agent for 29 Conservative candidates in the Hackney Council elections on May 3, 2018.
One resident then found her own name – and that of her husband – listed as an assentor for three Conservative candidates, and they ‘would certainly not have supported the Tory candidate’, the court at Prospero House, London’s first ‘Nightingale’ court, was told.
‘In the London borough of Hackney it was difficult to obtain the necessary signatures for local Conservative candidates,’ said prosecutor Tom Nicholson.
Diana Danescu, 28, allegedly obtained voters’ signatures ‘under false pretences’ by posing as a representative from the Labour Party and The Green Party
‘In an area like that the defendant chose to cut corners and to obtain the nomination by hook or by crook.’
The prosecutor added: ‘It’s alleged the defendant, Ms Danescu, who sits at the back of court, who at that time was an election agent for the Conservative Party, included within 11 different nomination forms for the local council elections, the apparent signatures of individuals who did not in fact sign the forms.
‘Or in other cases she included signatures obtained under false pretences. For example by pretending she was from a different political party – Labour or the Greens – or she was from the local council itself.’
‘For others she simply matched the signature to a name of a different person altogether.
‘For example if she had obtained a signature in the name of Lewis she would look on the electoral roll to see if there was someone called Lewis in the ward – since signatories must live on the ward – and just put in the first name of that person.’
Danescu was employed in 2018 as a Conservative campaign manager, but for the local elections in 2018 she took on the role as an election agent for a total of 29 Tory candidates in the south part of the London borough of Hackney, the court was told.
Mr Nicholson said that an election agent is legally responsible for the conduct of a candidate’s political campaign, and is permitted to oversee polling and vote counting.
‘In nine of the counts, these forms contained signatures which seem to be from individuals who have not in fact signed these forms,’ he added.
‘In the other counts they were signing for other reasons. If you thought you were nominating other parties or if this was just a form you thought you were signing in order to participate in the election.
Danescu was employed in 2018 as a Conservative campaign manager, but for the local elections in 2018 she took on the role as an election agent for a total of 29 Tory candidates in the south part of the London borough of Hackney, the court was told
‘The forms were submitted on April 3 at around lunchtime, 12.55pm. She handed them in. They were checked and accepted.
‘On May 2, 2018 a Sandra Stanton was having a look at the local government website.
‘She was keen enough to see she hadn’t received the normal literature about the candidates in the local elections and wanted to look them up on the website.
‘To her surprise she looked at Hackney Central website and saw her own name was listed as an assentor for three Conservative candidates, as was her husband, Brian Stanton.
‘Her husband was equally shocked, none of them recalled signing it and they would certainly not have supported the Tory candidate.
‘She wasn’t going to take this lying down so went to the local polling station and was directed to the town hall. She explained she hadn’t signed any nomination forms for the three conservative candidates.
‘Her own genuine signature was not on any of the forms but she did see her name printed. As a result the matter was reported to the police and an investigation began.
‘You will hear 23 signatures on 11 forms were falsified. You will hear from 14 out of the 19 people who dispute their signatures were properly obtained on these forms.’
Danescu, of South Woodford, east London, denies 16 counts of causing or permitting a false signature to be included in a nomination form.
She sat in a bright red blazer and white shirt as the prosecution case was opened at Prospero House – London’s first ‘Nightingale’ court.
The trial continues.