Banksy election stunt backfires amid police investigation
In a message posted on his website headlined “product recall”, Banksy said: “I have been warned by the Electoral Commission that the free print offer will invalidate the election result.”So I regret to announce this ill-conceived and legally dubious promotion has now been cancelled.”The message was accompanied by a picture of Banksy’s famous “balloon girl” but with the red heart replaced by the Union flag. Banksy’s “Balloon Girl” – a version of this image was published with the election offer Credit:REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo In a “lawyer’s note” disclaimer, it adds: “This print is a souvenir piece of campaign material, it is in no way meant to influence the choices of the electorate, has no monetary value, is for amusement purposes only and is strictly not for resale. Terms and conditions to follow, postage not included.” I have been warned by the Electoral Commission that the free print offer will invalidate the election result.Banksy Banksy said he had been warned by the Electoral Commission over his offer of a free print Credit: Banksy.co.uk Banksy’s election stunt has backfired amid a police investigation as the artist withdrew the offer of a free print to people who vote against the Conservatives.The controversial street artist said he had been “warned” by the Electoral Commission that his offer could “invalidate” the election.The mysterious artist had offered prints of a new limited edition artwork to people in seats around Bristol formerly held by Conservative MPs.Avon and Somerset Police are also investigating the offer, which Banksy launched last week, after receiving a number of complaints. Originally the artist said this print would be released on June 9, the day after the election. It would only available to registered voters in the Bristol North West, Bristol West, North Somerset, Thornbury, Kingswood and Filton constituencies.”Simply send in a photo of your ballot paper from polling day showing you voted against the Conservative incumbent and this complimentary gift will be mailed to you,” his original message said. The Electoral Commission, which oversees elections in the UK, warned that bribery, “where someone directly or indirectly gives any money or procures any office to or for any voter, in order to induce any voter to vote or not vote”, is an electoral offence.A person is guilty of treating if they, either before, during or after an election, directly or indirectly, give or provide “any food, drink, entertainment or provision to corruptly influence any voter to vote or refrain from voting”. Treating requires a corrupt intent – it does not apply to ordinary hospitality.The charity Crimestoppers has been warning voters to be wary of electoral fraud during the election, saying on its website: “It’s illegal to offer money or gifts to voters, directly or indirectly, to get someone to vote a certain way, or not to vote at all.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.