On Wednesday 10 June 2009 the House of Lords will give judgment in the long running saga of Colin Hanoman’s claim to buy his Peckham flat under the right to buy legislation. In addition to his litigation with Southwark, Mr Hanoman is an interesting footnote to electoral law under his “nom d’election”, “Mr Margaret Thatcher”.

In November 1999 Mr Hanoman, a local authority tenant, sought to exercise his statutory right to buy his
one bedroom flat at 86 Northfield House, Peckham Park Road London, SE18 where he had been living since 1977.  He failed to produce identity documents and eventually the application was treated as being withdrawn although the tenant was not told.  About 2 years later he raised the issue in a disrepair action.  The council argued that the application should be treated  as withdrawn.  This issue was the subject matter of an action which was decided in the tenant’s favour in June 2004 by Peter Smith J (Hanoman v Southwark [2005] 1 All ER 795). He served operative notices of delay on the council under the Housing Act 1985, and claimed that rent paid during the period of their delay – which was met from housing benefit – reduced the already discounted purchase price of £17,000 to nil in accordance with sections 153A(5) and 153B of the 1985 Act.  The council disputed the tenant’s entitlement to any further reduction in the purchase price, but he agreed to complete at the price of £17,000 while seeking to reserve the right to raise the issue of the further discount in the county court.  The council contended that the fact that lease had been executed meant there was no jurisdiction to grant relief. The tenant argued that there was a collateral contract reserving rights.  The County Court judge dismissed the tenant’s claim, holding that there was no enforceable collateral contract and accepting that housing benefit was not rent attributable to the purchase price under sections 153A(5) and 153B.
In June 2008 the Court of Appeal (The Master of the Rolls, Arden and Jacob LJJ) allowed the tenant’s appeal on both points holding that the natural meaning of sections 153A and 153B was that rent paid encompassed all rent duly paid, whatever the source of payment and that there was a collateral contract. Click here for their judgment.  The House of Lords (Lord Phillips, Lord Hoffmann, Lord Scott, Lord Rodger, Lord Brown) heard the council’s appeal on 23 March 2009 and judgment is to be given on 10 June 2009.
These two cases are not Mr Hanoman’s first appearance before the Courts.  In May 1983 (then apparently living at 83 Northfield House, Peckham Park Road, London SE 150 he changed his name by deed poll to Margaret Thatcher, and his address became Downing Street Mansions at 83 Northfield House. On the same date Mr Simon Stansfeld who was living at No. 37 Northfield House, Peckham Park Road, SE 15 and he changed his name to Ronald Regan and his address became Whitehouse Mansions, 37 Northfield House. On 23 May, Mr Thatcher personally submitted nomination papers to the returning officer for the Finchley constituency with himself as candidate and Mr Regan as agent. His description was “Conservationist Party”.  The agent of the then Prime Minister and Conservative Party candidate for Finchley, Mrs Margaret Thatcher, lodged an objection arguing that Mr Thatcher’s nomination was an abuse of process.The returning officer accepted the objection and returned the nomination papers to Mr Thatcher/Hanoman.  He, in turn, applied for Judicial Review of the returning officer’s decision to refuse his nomination seeking an order of mandamus requiring the returning officer to enter his name on the statement of persons nominated and on the ballot paper.  The election due to take place on 9 June 1983.  The application for judicial review was heard by McCowan J on 3 June 1983.  He upheld the returning officer’s decision but gave leave to appeal.  The Court of Appeal (Stephenson, Eveleigh and May LJJ) heard the appeal the same day.  Mr Patrick O’Connor represented Mr Thatcher.  He explained to the court that his client’s motive was “To make the electoral process more farcical, we believe it is already a frightening farce”.  The appeal was dismissed, substantially on the ground that the Court would not, in its discretion, grant any relief to an applicant whose conduct was designed to confuse the electorate.  Stephenson LJ commented

“It is quite true or course that nobody could confuse the appellant, bearded as he is, with the Prime Minister if they saw him, but, without overestimating the confusion or the credulity or the possible weakness of mind or of eyesight which may afflict some of the electorate, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that the effect, if not the object, or intention, of the adoption of this name was to mislead some members of the electorate into voting for somebody who was believed to be the Prime Minister supported by the President of the United States”.
Mrs Margaret Thatcher was subsequently re-elected as the member for Finchley.  Mr Hanoman’s subsequent political career is not recorded.


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