Banksy recalls free print offer


Graffiti artist Banksy has reneged on his offer to give one of his print works for free to anyone not voting Conservative in this week’s general election in Bristol and its surrounding constituencies.

The anonymous artist, whose work grew from the Bristol underground art scene, was offering a limited edition printout of his Balloon Girl print, with the UK flag superimposed over the balloon, to anyone who had taken a photo of their polling card to prove they were not voting for the incumbent party.

Prints were only available to registered voters in the constituencies of Bristol North West, Bristol West, Bristol East, North Somerset, Filton and Bradley Stoke, and Kingswood that didn't vote Conservative .

However, a statement on Banksy's website today said that the Electoral Commission had warned the offer "would invalidate the election result". 

"I regret to announce this ill-convceived and legally dubious promotion has now been cancelled," the statement read. 

Avon and Somerset Police had tweeted earlier saying they were investigating after receiving complaints about the scheme.

Avon's statement said: "We've received a number of complaints about an offer of a free Banksy print to people living in six Bristol constituencies in exchange for them voting in a certain way in the forthcoming election and we can confirm we're investigating the offer.

"It is a criminal offence under the Representation of the People Act 1983 for any voter to accept or agree to accept a gift or similar in return for voting or refraining from voting.

It is understood that Banksy’s ‘handling service’ Pest Control was originally arranging the printing, although PrintWeek couldn’t reach Pest Control for comment.

The Electoral Commission frowns upon the taking of photos in polling stations. Its website states: “Due to the potential breach of the law, intentionally or not, we strongly advise against any form of photography taken inside a polling station. However, if a voter would like to highlight their participation in the elections, we suggest this is done outside the polling station before or after they vote."

In addition, it lists taking a photo of a ballot paper's unique identification number as against the rules. 

An Electoral Commission spokesman told the BBC: “Given the risk that someone taking a photo inside a polling station may be in breach of the law, whether intentionally or not, the commission's advice is against taking any photos inside polling stations."

The UK electorate will head to the polls this Thursday (8 June), with the majority of pollsters predicting a Conservative majority, although more recent figures suggest Labour is closing the gap. PrintWeek poll conducted last month found more than half of respondents backing the Conservatives (53%) and less than a quarter supporting Labour (24%). 

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