Local government has long been the place where ambitious politicians seek to get themselves in the shop window, so to speak, but there are limits it seems.
Helena Torry’s face remained expressionless as election officials disqualified her from standing in the upcoming council elections in the Hazlehead, Ashley and Queens Cross ward in Aberdeen.
Her crime? Being a mannequin.
The mannequin’s election agent, 63-year-old Renee Slater has been charged by Grampian Police under the Section 65 part 2A of 1983 Representation of the People Act, concerned with forging ballot papers, and is scheduled to appear in court in the near future.
“It has been brought to my attention that Helena Torry, for whom a nomination paper was submitted for the Hazlehead, Ashley and Queens Cross ward, does not exist,” said the red faced returning officer, Valerie Watts. “I am, therefore, republishing the Notice of Poll for that ward, deleting the reference to the fake candidate.”
“This is a very serious and unusual step to take but is necessary to ensure that the interests of the genuine candidates and voters are protected, and that the election can take place on May 3.
”The nomination paper for Helena Torry was submitted shortly before the close of nominations on March 3 and contained all the information required by statute for a valid nomination.
“In this case, it is clear from public statements from the purported election agent that the information on the form was inaccurate to the point of rendering the nomination a complete nullity, which can be disregarded for the purposes of the election.” She said that “those concerned” would be required to cover the costs involved in the matter.
Ms Slater was released from police custody on Thursday, but the mannequin has not been so fortunate. She remains in the possession of the Grampian Police.
It is three weeks since Ms Slater first foisted the brunette bespectacled dummy into the electoral foray, when she told the Aberdeen Evening Express: “Helena’s aims and objectives are equality for human beings, ensuring there is a fair deal for everyone and giving a voice to the silent majority.”
Lofty aims no question, though her immediate interests are more specific. She first appeared at a Friends of Union Terrace Garden campaign event, of which her agent is a vocal supporter, campaigning against proposed developments to gardens in Aberdeen City Centre.
We shall never know now what Ms Torry might have achieved in public life, but the initials signs were promising. “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views,” wrote a relatively unknown senator from Illinois seven years ago. He might just win a second term in the White House at the end of the year.