UKIP have had some trouble in the past regarding the registration of a candidate’s home address – it’s a legal requirement to do so accurately and truthfully when standing for election. Most famously, Paul Nuttall got some awkward questions in Stoke on Trent for registering his “home” as a house he had allegedly never been to.
It seems that at least one UKIP candidate perhaps hasn’t learned anything from that experience. In Hartlepool, a UKIP stronghold where they came second in 2015 and recorded their fourth best performance in the country, there’s something rather peculiar about the official nomination details of their candidate, Phillip Broughton, a former wrestler who stood for the leadership of the party last year.
According to the Statement of Persons Nominated, Broughton’s home address is “159-161 Stockton Road, Hartlepool TS25 1SL”. Except if you search that address online, it turns out to be the address of the Brafferton B&B, a “friendly bed and breakfast”.
That’s odd, to say the least. Is this the UKIP candidate’s actual home or has he used it in order to portray himself as a local resident when actually he’s staying in a B&B?
I contacted the Brafferton today to ask if he was staying there as a guest – they refused to comment. However, Fraser Kinnie, a probate researcher at professional tracing agency HeirHunter UK, tells me that he contacted the owner of the Brafferton last night, after the deadline to submit candidate nominations, and was told not only that Broughton wasn’t resident there but that they had “never heard of him”. Kinnie, whose job is finding people, has access to numerous sources of public and non-public records but has found within them nothing linking Broughton to the address he submitted as his home.
Broughton is a former Stockton councillor, and was for many years a resident of Ingleby Barwick in Stockton, which is not in the Hartlepool constituency. A Northern Echo article from March 2015 interviewed him in the “bright and airy living room in his Ingleby Barwick home”. It’s possible he has moved since, of course, though even if he had chosen to move towns it would be somewhat unusual to leave a “bright and airy” home and move instead to live in a B&B. If he has moved his home there for the purposes of the election campaign, Hartlepool voters might find the tactic somewhat less than completely open.
Asked about the definition of “home address” in election law, the Electoral Commission pointed me to a House of Commons Library Briefing which argues that it is “a question of fact” but that there aren’t “rigid rules” defining it. The Commission also told me “the candidate should make an honest and fair assessment of what should reasonably be given as their home address”. It wouldn’t seem unreasonable to think that fair measures of this question of fact might include where one regularly sleeps overnight long-term, where one pays council tax (if applicable) and/or where one’s bills and bank statements are sent.
To confirm the status of his home address and to seek a response to questions regarding the story, I tried repeatedly to contact Broughton himself this afternoon – phonecalls, voicemail, text messages and email went unanswered for several hours. I also sought to contact a variety of UKIP officials in Hartlepool and the wider North East, only to receive no answer from any of them – barring one, who gave me Broughton’s number but subsequently stopped answering his phone.
UKIP’s national press office told me they were not aware that Broughton had registered a B&B as his home address, though a few minutes after speaking to them he called me. Asked if the Bed and Breakfast was indeed his home, he said he had been “renting the place” for “a couple of weeks” – on further questioning he confirmed that this meant he was occupying a room in the guest house.
He further said that he had registered to vote at the address, and claimed he was being “open and honest with people” because “it is my home…it’s in Hartlepool – it’ll be on the ballot paper”, while conceding he also had “a Stockton place”. He did not clarify if any of his bills, bank statements or other official documentation beyond his electoral registration were linked to the Brafferton B&B.
Asked why the Brafferton’s owners had told Kinnie yesterday that they had “never heard of him”, and why they had declined to confirm his residence when contacted by this site earlier today, Broughton replied that they had not told the truth due to being “worried about the media”. We do not know if he intends to continue his residence in the guest house hotel room once the election campaign is over.