Dear Electoral Commission,

Please provide copies of complaints made by Vote Leave Limited to the Electoral Commission about the conduct of the Electoral Commission or any other organisations, sent since 1 March 2016.

Yours faithfully,

Oriel Flattery

FOI, Electoral Commission

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Dear Oriel Flattery,
 
Our Ref: FOI 71/16
 
Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act dated 5^th
June 2016, received by the Commission on 6^th June 2016, concerning:
 
Please provide copies of complaints made by Vote Leave Limited to the
Electoral Commission about the conduct of the Electoral Commission or any
other organisations, sent since 1 March 2016.
 
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 4^th July
2016.
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Paul O’Malley
Information Adviser (Records Management)
The Electoral Commission
3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ
Tel: 020 7271 0554
Fax: 020 7271 0665
[1]www.electoralcommission.org.uk
[2]www.aboutmyvote.co.uk
 
Putting voters first
 
P   Please consider the environment before printing this email.
 
 
 

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Paul O. Malley, Electoral Commission

Dear Mr. Flattery,
 
Unfortunately we will not be able to provide you with a full response
today due to a delay in our internal processes. We will endeavour to
provide a response to you as soon as possible and by Friday the 8^th July
at the latest.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
 
Paul O’Malley
Information Adviser (Records Management)
The Electoral Commission
3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ
Tel: 020 7271 0554
Fax: 020 7271 0665
[1]www.electoralcommission.org.uk
[2]www.aboutmyvote.co.uk
 
Putting voters first
 
P   Please consider the environment before printing this email.
 
_____________________________________________

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FOI, Electoral Commission

16 Attachments

Dear Oriel Flattery,

 

Our Ref: FOI 71/16

 

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 dated
6^th June 2016.

 

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 copies of complaints made by Vote Leave Limited to the
Electoral Commission about the conduct of the Electoral Commission or any
other organisations, sent since 1 March 2016.

 

Our response is as follows:

 

We hold information related to your request. Communications from Vote
Leave Limited to the Electoral Commission about the conduct of the
Electoral Commission or any other organisations include the following
complaints about:

 

1.    councils over late supply of absent voter lists

2.    misleading postal vote guidance

3.    EU citizens receiving postal ballots

4.    French industrialists for Remain ad

5.    treating by Operation Croissant

6.    letters to the Commission regarding an ITV debate

 

 

Additionally have received a complaint from Vote Leave about Ryanair. We
released the findings of an assessment in a press release here:
[1]http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-....
The information we hold relates to an  assessment conducted by the
Commission. We consider this information exempt under section 30 and
section 31.

 

Section 30(1) (a) (i) and 31 (1) (g)

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 information requested is
held by the Commission in relation to an assessment  into whether Ryanair
committed an offence in relation to referendum campaigning spending in the
EU Referendum.

As stated in our press release, our assessment considered whether Ryanair
committed an offence under section 117 of PPERA. Section 117 sets out
offences relating to unregistered referendum campaigners spending more
than £10,000 on referendum campaigns in the referendum period.

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 assessment  which
the authority has a duty to conduct with a view to it being ascertained
whether a person should be charged with an offence. The section 30
exemption applies to information that is held at any time, whether or not
the assessment  is on-going.

In this case it is necessary to consider the failure to comply in order to
reach a view whether a person or persons should be charged with a criminal
offence.

Where there is no evidence of criminal activity, or in any event, the
Commission may consider civil breaches. In so far as the assessment 
related to other potential breaches of PPERA, section 31 (1) (g) 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 s31 (2)(a) of the FOI Act. Section 31 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 assessment  such as in this matter.

This assessment  is now closed.  However, as noted above, the section 30
exemption applies to information that is held at any time, whether or not
the assessment is on-going.

The Commission considers that the information you have requested is also
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.

Applications of the section 30 and 31 exemption 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
assessments  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 co-operation 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 assessments  rely on gathering evidence from these organisations 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 assessment 
would not be made available to the public at large. If information
provided in the course of our assessment  was made public under the 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 assessments which would prejudice
the Commission’s ability to conduct its statutory functions. The fact that
the assessment  has been closed does not affect the relevance of this.

 

Having carefully weighed the public interest relating to possible
disclosure of the information requested under Sections 30(1) (a) (i), 31
(1) (g), 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.

Some of the information contained in these documents contains personal
data, such as direct contact information of staff members and the names
and contact details of junior staff members, which is exempt under Section
40 of the FOI Act. These documents have been redacted prior to release.
Further explanation of the exemption is provided below.

Section 40(2) and (3)(a)(i) of the FOI Act

Section 40 (2) provides for an exemption where the information requested
constitutes personal data, some of which is sensitive personal data, as
defined by the Data Protection Act (DPA), and where release of the
information requested would breach one of the data protection principles.
Some of the information we hold within the description of personal data as
defined by section 1 of the DPA because the information relates directly
to an identifiable living individual.

 

 

 

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:
[2]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: [3]http://www.ico.gov.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Paul O’Malley

Information Adviser (Records Management)

The Electoral Commission

3 Bunhill Row

London EC1Y 8YZ

Tel: 020 7271 0554

Fax: 020 7271 0665

[4]www.electoralcommission.org.uk

[5]www.aboutmyvote.co.uk

 

Putting voters first

 

P   Please consider the environment before printing this email.

------------------------

References

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2. http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/ab...
3. http://www.ico.gov.uk/
4. http://skynet/dm/Functions/IM/Requests%2...
5. http://skynet/dm/Functions/IM/Requests%2...

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