Banksy

G Webber made this Freedom of Information 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.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Electoral Commission,

Please provide me with an electronic copy of all recorded information you hold relating to Banksy's offer of 'prints for votes' in Bristol.

Yours faithfully,
Gabriel

FOI, Electoral Commission

Dear G Webber,
 
Our Ref: FOI XX/15
 
Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act dated 06
June 2017, concerning:
 
Please provide me with an electronic copy of all recorded information you
hold relating to Banksy's offer of 'prints for votes' in Bristol.
 
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 Tuesday 04
July 2017.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Ashley
 
Ashley Lardner
Senior Information and Knowledge Adviser
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...

Dear FOI,

I think you forgot to respond to this request within the statutory deadline?

Yours sincerely,

G Webber

FOI, Electoral Commission

Dear Gabriel Webber,

 

Our Ref: FOI 79/17

Thank you for your email to the Electoral Commission dated 30 June 2017.

 

The Commission aims to respond to requests for information promptly and
regrets that on this occasion we have not done so.

Your request is in bold below followed by our response.

You have requested:

 

Please provide me with an electronic copy of all recorded information you
hold relating to Banksy's offer of 'prints for votes' in Bristol.

 

Our response is as follows:

 

We hold the information you have requested.

The Commission considers that the specific information you have requested
is exempt from disclosure under section 31 of the Freedom of Information
Act. However, we recognise that there is a clear public interest in this
matter, and the Commission's actions relating to it. We are therefore
providing below a summary of the Commission's actions in respect of this
matter.

 

The Commission became aware of the offer of a Banksy print on 3 June 2017.
During the course of that day the Commission liaised with Avon and
Somerset Police, as the potential offence involved was not one the
Commission regulates. Due to the clear risk of an offence however, and the
potential impact on public confidence on the result of the elections in
the relevant constituencies, the Commission also identified and made
contact with Banksy's publicist. The Commission then provided advice to
Banksy via his publicist that the offer of the print was potentially a
criminal offence, and urged him to withdraw the offer immediately.

The Commission referred to the offences of 'bribery' and 'treating' which
are both criminal offences in electoral law (under sections 113 and 114 of
the RPA), and both relate to inducements to voters to vote, not to vote,
or to vote in a particular way. We noted that there was a disclaimer on
Banksy's webpage, but expressed our concern that the offer of artworks,
with a value of some sort, to those who did not vote for a particular
party, may well fall within the scope of those offences. We also pointed
out that these offences also applied to the person who was deemed to have
accepted the inducement, and therefore any person seeking to participate
in the 'offer' might be exposing themselves to the risk of committing one
or both of these offences.

We further pointed out that taking a photograph of one's ballot paper
after completion, and disclosing it to others, could also be a potential
offence under section 66 RPA, which relates to the secrecy of the ballot.
We noted that voters were apparently being asked to provide a picture of
their ballot paper, presumably along with a name and address to which the
Banksy print could be sent. We noted that this could effectively disclose
the voter registration numbers of significant numbers of voters. We
pointed out that as with the above mentioned offences, this offence could
apply to the person who disclosed their vote, and therefore any person
seeking to participate in the 'offer' might be exposing themselves to the
risk of committing this offence too.

We stated that regardless of the potential offences, it was not helpful to
efforts to combat electoral fraud to generally encourage voters to
disclose information about their vote, and particularly their
registration.

We pointed out that offences under the Representation of the People Act
1983 were police matters, and it would be a decision for the police
whether to investigate further, but offered, our strong advice to withdraw
the 'offer' immediately.

The Commission did not receive any response to that advice, other than
from the publicist to confirm that it had been passed on, but Banksy's
website was updated overnight and the offer was withdrawn.

 

 

Reasons for not disclosing the information requested

The Commission considers that the information you have requested is exempt
under s.31 (1)(a), prejudice to the prevention or detection or crime, and
s.31(1)(b), prejudice to the apprehension or prosecution of offenders.

Application of the section 31 exemption is subject to the public interest
test. There are a number of factors that must be considered and weighed in
the balance, which we have considered below.

The public interest lies in enabling the Commission to cooperate with the
police by passing on to the police any information relating to potential
offences under the RPA.  Disclosure of information relating to this
exchange of information may inhibit the free exchange of such information
in the future, and also may relate to police strategies and tactics in
seeking to prevent crime, or to planned police operations, or may
facilitate the commission of future offences, or may prejudice the fair
trial of any person against whom proceedings may be instituted. 
Accordingly, we consider that disclosure would be likely to prejudice the
prevention or detection of crime, and the apprehension or prosecution of
offenders.

We acknowledge that there is a legitimate public interest in carrying out
our functions in an open and transparent way, and in promoting public
understanding of the decisions we make. These are matters we acknowledge
and take into account, including when deciding whether to disclose
information, whilst ensuring proper regulation of political finance. For
those reasons we have provided the summary included in this response.

Having carefully weighed the public interest relating to possible
disclosure of the information requested under Sections 31(1)(a) and
31(1)(b), 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]http://www.ico.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

 

Ashley

 

Ashley Lardner

Senior Information and Knowledge Adviser

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. http://www.ico.gov.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...