Leading Article: The law and Ms Jones

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The Independent Culture
IT IS a pity - although perhaps not for Fiona Jones, the MP - that there is not going to be a by-election in Newark. It promised an intriguing contest. With William Hague seemingly going nowhere and the Liberal Democrats starting a poor third, how would Newark's voters send the traditional message of insubordination to the Government? How would the pro-euro Tories fare? We shall never find out, because the Appeal Court has ruled that Ms Jones is not guilty of fraud in recording her electoral expenses.

The point on which she got off, however, merely confirms the need for reform of the law on election funding. The jury, it was held, had been misdirected on the distinction between spending to promote Ms Jones as an individual candidate and spending to promote the Labour Party. By the time of the next general election, the rules to regulate spending must catch up with the 20th century, if not the 21st.