LONDON, ONT -- Former London civic candidate Randy Warden is facing a charge of failing to identify himself on election campaign advertising under the Municipal Elections Act.

Along with Warden, OPP announced Wednesday that Barry Phillips, a volunteer with Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen’s 2018 municipal campaign, is charged with failing to register as a third-party advertiser.

OPP say in August of 2019, they received a request for assistance from the London Police Service in relation to allegations of third-party advertising violations in the 2018 civic election.

The OPP Anti-Rackets Branch investigated and say both charges are under the Municipal Elections Act.

Both men were clients of political consulting firm Blackridge Strategy.

Phillips, 56, told CTV News he paid Blackridge more than $1,000 of his own money for a website disparaging former councillor Viriginia Ridley. Ridley lost to Van Meerbergen in the last municipal election. Van Meerbergen is not facing any charges.

Warden, 60, ran against Coun. Maureen Cassidy, but lost. Warden has said that he was not involved in a fake website about Cassidy that surfaced during the campaign. He did admit that "agents or volunteers" had a role, however, and said he accepted "full ownership."

“We need transparent elections were people feel confident we have a trustable result,” says John Hassan, who contacted police about possible municipal elections act violations related to the websites that targeted Cassidy and Ridley.

Last summer he was interviewed by an OPP Investigator.

“She just took me through my process, why I thought the act had been breached,” recalls Hassan. “She indicated as probably wouldn’t hear anything, but to rest assured they would be working in the background.”

Political scientist Andrew Sancton says charges under the Municipal Elections Act are relatively rare.

“I can’t recall another issue like this in London,” says Sancton.

Regardless of the legal outcome, he expects the laying of charges will send a message to campaigns ahead of the 2022 municipal election.

“I think that people will be paying a little more attention to the provisions of the Municipal Elections Act.”

Hassan says he is glad police took his concerns seriously.

“It’s encouraging to know that the process has gone the way I believe it should have.”

Blackridge issued this statement Monday: "We were not aware of this development and learned about it through CTV. We won't comment on a matter that's before the courts and look forward to this matter being resolved."