Banksy offers free prints to those voting against the Conservatives

Updated: 

Secretive street artist Banksy could be flirting with electoral law after apparently offering free prints to people who vote against the Conservatives.

Banksy, famous for his satirical and politically-themed graffiti, is offering the prints of a new limited edition artwork to people who vote against the Tories in seats in and around Bristol formerly held by the party's MPs.

An announcement on his website says that a new Banksy piece will be released on June 9, the day after the General Election - a print of his famous "balloon girl", but with the red heart balloon replaced with the Union flag.

It says: "This limited edition artwork on archival quality paper is completely free, but is only available to registered voters in the Bristol North West, Bristol West, North Somerset, Thornbury, Kingswood and Filton constituencies.

"Simply send in a photo of your ballot paper from polling day showing you voted against the Conservative incumbent and this complimentary gift will be mailed to you."

In a "lawyer's note" disclaimer, it adds: "This print is a souvenir piece of campaign material, it is in no way meant to influence the choices of the electorate, has no monetary value, is for amusement purposes only and is strictly not for re-sale. Terms and conditions to follow, postage not included."

But the elusive artist may yet fall foul of the law.

The Electoral Commission, which oversees elections in the UK, warns that bribery - "where someone directly or indirectly gives any money or procures any office to or for any voter, in order to induce any voter to vote or not vote" - is an electoral offence.

Banksy should also be aware of an issue known as treating, in which "a person is guilty of treating if either before, during or after an election they directly or indirectly give or provide any food, drink, entertainment or provision to corruptly influence any voter to vote or refrain from voting. Treating requires a corrupt intent - it does not apply to ordinary hospitality".

The charity Crimestoppers has been warning voters to be wary of electoral fraud during the election, saying on its website: "It's illegal to offer money or gifts to voters, directly or indirectly, to get someone to vote a certain way, or not to vote at all."

A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said: "The law in this area is complex. 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."

Any issues of potential bribery would be a matter for the police, he added.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: "At this time, we've not received any complaints regarding this.

"All election complaints are looked at locally initially and, in due course, are forwarded to our team at headquarters to establish whether any crime has been committed."