Status of Scottish Unionist Association Trust

Ally Tibbitt made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Electoral Commission

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear Electoral Commission,

Please treat this email as a Freedom of Information request.

I would like information you hold on the status, for regulatory purposes, of the Scottish Unionist Association Trust (SUAT)

In particular, I would like to receive copies of all communications with representatives of SUAT where the status of the organisation is discussed and verified.

Multiple addresses have been given for SUAT and it has variously been described as a private trust, a friendly society, a limited liability partnership and an unincorporated association on official documentation.

Please also supply copies of any communications or formal reports where SUAT officials provide evidence, or re-assurances, to the Electoral Commission that the political donations it has made under are valid and compliant with electoral law.

Although I understand that the Glasgow Unionist Association Trust has now been wound up, I would also be grateful for any similar information you may hold on that body too.

I would like to receive any information you provide in response to this FOI to be sent in an electronic format, to this email address. If possible, please avoid providing files in pdf format.

I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Yours faithfully,

Ally Tibbitt

FOI, Electoral Commission

Dear Ally Tibbitt,
 
Our Ref: FOI 102/18
 
Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act dated 02
July 2018, concerning:

 1. I would like information you hold on the status, for regulatory
purposes, of the Scottish Unionist Association Trust (SUAT) In
particular, I would like to receive copies of all communications with
representatives of SUAT where the status of the organisation is
discussed and verified.

 a. Multiple addresses have been given for SUAT and it has variously been
described as a private trust, a friendly society, a limited liability
partnership and an unincorporated association on official
documentation.
 b. Please also supply copies of any communications or formal reports
where SUAT officials provide evidence, or re-assurances, to the
Electoral Commission that the political donations it has made under
are valid and compliant with electoral law.

 2. Although I understand that the Glasgow Unionist Association Trust has
now been wound up, I would also be grateful for any similar
information you may hold on that body too.

 
 
The Commission aims to respond to requests for information promptly and
within the statutory timeframe of twenty working days.
 
You may expect to receive a reply sent from the Commission by 30 July
2018.
 
Yours sincerely,
Daniel Howard
 
Daniel Howard
Access to Information Officer (FOI & DPA)
The Electoral Commission
3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ
[1][Electoral Commission request email]
[2]electoralcommission.org.uk
[3]yourvotematters.co.uk
 
[4]Twitter | [5]Facebook | [6]Blog
 
 
 
 

References

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1. mailto:[Electoral Commission request email]
2. https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/
3. https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/
4. https://twitter.com/ElectoralCommUK
5. https://www.facebook.com/electoralcommis...
6. http://ukelectoralcommission.wordpress.c...

FOI, Electoral Commission

1 Atodiad

Dear Ally Tibbitt,

 

Our Ref: FOI 102/18

 

Thank you for your email to the Electoral Commission dated 02 July 2018.

 

The Commission aims to respond to requests for information promptly and
has done so within the statutory timeframe of twenty working days.

 

Your request is in bold below followed by our response.

1.    I would like information you hold on the status, for regulatory
purposes, of the Scottish Unionist Association Trust (SUAT) In particular,
I would like to receive copies of all communications with representatives
of SUAT where the status of the organisation is discussed and verified.

a)    Multiple addresses have been given for SUAT and it has variously
been described as a private trust, a friendly society, a limited liability
partnership and an unincorporated association on official documentation.

b)   Please also supply copies of any communications or formal reports
where SUAT officials provide evidence, or re-assurances, to the Electoral
Commission that the political donations it has made under are valid and
compliant with electoral law.

2.    Although I understand that the Glasgow Unionist Association Trust
has now been wound up, I would also be grateful for any similar
information you may hold on that body too.

 

 

Our response is as follows:

 

We hold some of the information you have requested.

 

Information relating to SUAT which does not fall under the below
exemptions has been attached to this response. In addition, the Commission
holds further information concerning SUAT which is held as part of an
investigation and which does fall under exemptions provided by the Freedom
of Information (FOI) Act. These are detailed below.

 

We hold no information falling within your request in relation to the
Glasgow Unionist Association Trust.

In respect of the information we have supplied, we have redacted some
personal information, having applied exemptions under the Data Protection
Act.

Section 40 (2) provides for an exemption where the information requested
constitutes personal data as defined by the DPA, and where release of the
information requested would breach one of the data protection principles.

 

Some of the information we hold that is relevant to your request falls
within the description of personal data as defined by section 3 of the DPA
because the information relates directly to an identifiable living
individual, and is ‘personal data’ under section 40 (2). Disclosure of
this information would contravene the first principle of the DPA (40
(3)(a)(ii)).

 

The first data protection principle states that personal data shall be
processed fairly and lawfully. The Commission considers that it would be
unfair to release the information requested as it would be reasonably
expected by those individuals that details of who they are, the positions
they hold or held, any home addresses and similar personal data would not
be disclosed to the general public including in connection with these
matters.

 

Therefore, the Commission is not satisfied that under section 40 (2) it
would be fair and lawful to provide you with the personal data contained
in the information requested.

 

Exemption under section 30 and 31 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act

The Commission has a statutory function to conduct investigations into
potential breaches of the reporting requirements in Political Parties,
Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (“PPERA”).

The Commission is currently conducting an investigation in respect of
SUAT, which concerns its financial reporting obligations under PPERA.

One of the aims that investigation is to establish its nature.

Section 30(1)(a)(i) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) provides
for exemption from disclosure of information which has been held at any
time by a public authority for the purpose of any investigation which the
authority has a duty to conduct with a view to it being ascertained
whether a person should be charged with an offence.

Moreover, section 31(1)(a) of the FOI Act provides for an exemption from
disclosure of information which would prejudice the prevention or
detection or crime.

A further exemption from disclosure can be found in section 31(1)(b) of
the FOI Act, where information which would prejudice the apprehension or
prosecution of offenders is exempt.

Where there is no evidence of criminal activity, or in any other
circumstances, the Commission may consider civil breaches of PPERA. In so
far as the investigation relate to other potential breaches of PPERA,
section 31(1)(g) of the FOI Act exempts from disclosure information that
would or would be likely to prejudice the exercise of the Commission’s
functions under PPERA for the purposes of ascertaining whether any person
has failed to comply with the law (as provided by section 31(2)(a) of the
FOI Act). Section 31 of the FOI Act applies only to the extent that the
information is not exempt under section 30.

The Commission considers that disclosure of the information you have
requested would prejudice the exercise of the Commission’s statutory
functions and its ability to conduct investigation such as in this matter.

The public interest test

Applications of the section 30 and 31 exemptions are both subject to the
public interest test. There are a number of factors that must be
considered and weighed in the balance. The factors we have considered are
set out below.

The public interest lies in enabling the Commission to undertake inquiries
as part of its investigation powers so that it can make regulatory
decisions based on a firm factual basis and to gather such evidence and
facts on a confidential basis. It is in the public interest to maintain
this confidentiality, as it encourages the free and frank exchange of
information from third parties to the Commission without which the
Commission could not perform its statutory functions.

The Commission aims to be robust and fair in its regulatory decisions. We
acknowledge that there is a legitimate public interest in carrying out
investigations in an open and transparent way, and in promoting public
understanding of the decisions we make as a regulator. These are matters
we acknowledge and take into account, including when deciding whether to
disclose information, whilst ensuring proper regulation of party political
funding.

In carrying out effective inquiries the Commission depends on being able
to secure the cooperation of those individuals and entities from whom we
seek information. Whilst the Commission has powers to require information,
the co-operation of the regulated community and other enforcement agencies
remains essential to our ability to conduct our statutory functions. As
our investigations rely on gathering evidence from these individuals and
entities it is clearly in the public interest that we maintain their
co-operation and avoid releasing information that could prevent exchange
of relevant information in the future and have the effect of hindering our
ability to conduct our statutory functions.

Those individuals and entities had, and continue to have, a reasonable
expectation that information provided in the course of the investigation
would not be made available to the public at large. If information
provided in the course of our investigation was made public under the FOI
Act, it would make individuals and entities reluctant to co-operate and
may prejudice interactions with them as well as others in the future. This
would in turn impact on the type, timeliness, and quality of information
provided to the Commission during its investigations which would prejudice
the Commission’s ability to conduct its statutory functions.

Decision on disclosure

Having carefully weighed the public interest relating to possible
disclosure of the information requested under sections 30(1)(a)(i),
31(1)(a), 31(1)(b) and 31(1)(g) of the FOI Act we are satisfied that it is
not appropriate at this time to disclose the information which the
Commission holds. The Commission is satisfied that maintaining the
exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

I trust that this information satisfies your request. The Commission
strives to be an open, transparent authority, but in some circumstances we
cannot responsibly release requested information, and we ask for your
understanding in this regard.

If you are not satisfied with this response, please note that the
Commission operates a review procedure, details of which can be found on
the Commission website at:
[1]http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/ab...

Please also note that if you have exhausted all internal Commission review
procedures and you are still not satisfied you have the right to appeal to
the Information Commissioner. Details of this procedure can be found on
the ICO website: [2]https://ico.org.uk/

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Daniel Howard

Access to Information Officer (FOI & DPA)

The Electoral Commission

3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ

[3][Electoral Commission request email]

[4]electoralcommission.org.uk

[5]yourvotematters.co.uk

 

[6]Twitter | [7]Facebook | [8]Blog

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/ab...
2. https://ico.org.uk/
3. mailto:[Electoral Commission request email]
4. https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/
5. https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/
6. https://twitter.com/ElectoralCommUK
7. https://www.facebook.com/electoralcommis...
8. http://ukelectoralcommission.wordpress.c...

Gadawodd Ally Tibbitt anodiad ()

This FOI helped to inform a series of stories on the Scottish Unionist Association Trust: https://theferret.scot/tag/scottish-unio...