Libertas faces UK electoral hurdle over party name


LIBERTAS HAS hit an unexpected hurdle in Britain because a close associate of a rival political party has already registered Libertas UK with the electoral commission.

Bridget Rowe, a friend of UK Independence Party chief Nigel Farage, is listed as the leader of Libertas UK on the electoral commission’s website. The party was registered on December 19th, 2008 and is expected to field candidates in England, says the commission.

An electoral commission spokesman said yesterday one of the criteria for successfully registering a political party in Britain was that no party with the same name already existed on the commission’s list.

It is now unclear whether Declan Ganley’s Libertas, which wants to field candidates in Britain in the upcoming European elections, will be able to compete under its Libertas brand.

A Libertas spokesman refused to comment on the registration issue yesterday. Mr Ganley also moved quickly to distance himself from controversial Czech MEP Vladimir Zelezny, who last week registered Libertas as a party in the Czech Republic.

Mr Ganley, who wants to set up Libertas branches in all 27 EU states ahead of the June elections, issued a press release yesterday stating that he had not “recruited” Mr Zelezny.

Mr Zelezny is a controversial character in the Czech Republic, where he has been convicted of tax evasion and is the subject of several investigations by the authorities. He told a Prague radio station last year he is a “fierce eurosceptic”, adding that the EU’s “over-regulated environment strongly resembles what we know from our communist past”.

A Libertas spokeswoman in Brussels said this week the former media mogul Mr Zelezny had registered the Czech branch of the organisation “with the knowledge” of Libertas, a comment that was published by The Irish Times.

Mr Ganley said yesterday this was not true and accused this newspaper of trying to attach his name to “a Eurosceptic agenda”.

“Mr Ganley said that while Mr Zelezny had registered the name Libertas in the Czech Republic, this action was not done on the request of Libertas in either Dublin or Brussels, and indicated nothing more than the enthusiasm of support for the Libertas project being expressed by people across the continent,” said the statement.

“Mr Zelezny had not, as implied in the report, been asked to stand in the European elections by Libertas, or in fact been the recipient of any specific request from Libertas in relation to its campaign, nor had he been the subject of any announcement made by Libertas, as reported,” it added.

Asked to clarify what relationship Libertas and Mr Zelezny currently enjoy, or will have in the future, Libertas refused to comment yesterday. The party also refused to speculate on whether it would run Libertas candidates under the party registered by Mr Zelezny. Mr Zelezny also refused to return phone calls made by The Irish Timesyesterday.