Details of allegations recieved

Helen Cross 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 successful.

Dear Electoral Commission,

Please provide me with a list of:

1- the allegation reference number, eg A-1108
2- the date the allegation was entered onto your system
3- Summary of the allegation
4- the outcome, eg closed following initial assessment, under review, closed following review, closed following investigation or deferred or other
5- the finding in each case eg: No failure to comply, failure to comply - no action taken, failure to comply - action taken, deferred or other
6- the closure reason, eg Public interest, donation forfeited, lack of evidence

for all allegations of potential breaches of electoral law dealt with by the Party and Election finance team between 1 January 2008 and the present date (26/07/2011).

I would expect this information to be relatively simple to extract from your case management system. I have not requested the names of any of the parties, regulated donees or recognised third parties involved and I am not interested in receiving information that identifies either the complainant or the respondent in any of these cases. I wish to receive this information in electronic format, ideally as a spreadsheet.

Yours faithfully,

Helen Cross

Stephanie Payne, Electoral Commission

I'm now out of the office until Tuesday 2 August, and will not be checking email.

If you have an urgent query, or are emailing with regard to a Freedom of Information request, please forward your email to Janice Reid and Danny Creighton.

[email address]<mailto:[email address]>
[email address]<mailto:[email address]>

Kind regards,
Stephanie

Stephanie Payne
Information Adviser
The Electoral Commission
3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ

Tel: 020 7271 0653
Fax: 020 7271 0505
www.electoralcommission.org.uk<http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/>

Sent request to Electoral Commission again, using a new contact address.

Danny Creighton, Electoral Commission

Our Ref: FOI 54/11

Dear Helen Cross

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act 26 July 2011.

You have requested:

Please provide me with a list of;
1- The allegation reference number, e.g. A-1108;
2- The date the allegation was entered onto your system;
3- Summary of the allegation;
4- The outcome, e.g. closed following initial assessment, under review, closed following review, closed following investigation or deferred or other;
5- The finding in each case e.g. No failure to comply, failure to comply - no action taken, failure to comply - action taken, deferred or other;
6- The closure reason, e.g. Public interest, donation forfeited, lack of evidence;
for all allegations of potential breaches of electoral law dealt with by the Party and Election finance team between 1 January 2008 and the present date (26/07/2011).

With the following instruction;

I would expect this information to be relatively simple to extract from your case management system. I have not requested the names of any of the parties, regulated donees or recognised third parties involved and I am not interested in receiving information that identifies either the complainant or the respondent in any of these cases. I wish to receive this information in electronic format, ideally as a spread-sheet.

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 23 August 2011.

Yours sincerely

Danny Creighton
Information Adviser
The Electoral Commission
3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ
Tel: 020 7271 0554
Fax: 020 7271 0500
www.electoralcommission.org.uk<http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk>

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Stephanie Payne, Electoral Commission

Our Ref: FOI 54/11

Dear Helen Cross,

I am writing to apologise for the delay in replying to your Freedom of Information request received by the Commission on 28 April 2011, and to assure you that we will be providing a response as soon as possible.

The Commission aims to respond to requests for information promptly and within the statutory timeframe of twenty working days, and we regret that we haven't been able to do so in this instance.

Yours sincerely,
Stephanie Payne

Stephanie Payne
Information Adviser
The Electoral Commission
3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ
Tel: 020 7271 0653
Fax: 020 7271 0505
www.electoralcommission.org.uk<http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/>

Make sure you are registered to vote<http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/>
Follow us on Twitter<http://twitter.com/ElectoralCommUK>

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Dear Stephanie Payne,

Thank you for your email and assurances that you aim to respond as soon as possible. I am obviously disappointed that you have been unable to deal with my request within the statutory time limit on this occasion. Would it be possible for you to provide me with a rough estimate of when you expect to be able to provide a response?

Yours sincerely,

Helen Cross

Stephanie Payne, Electoral Commission

Dear Helen Cross,

I've spoken to the relevant team, and they hope to be able to provide a response by the end of next week.

Yours sincerely,
Stephanie Payne

Stephanie Payne
Information Adviser
The Electoral Commission
3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ
Tel: 020 7271 0653
Fax: 020 7271 0505

show quoted sections

Dear Electoral Commission,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Electoral Commission's handling of my FOI request 'Details of allegations recieved'.

Section 10(1) of the Freedom of Information Act states that on receipt of a request for information a public authority should provide a response within 20 working days. It has now been 28 working days since I made this request to the Commission and I am yet to receive a response. I was informed that you hoped to be able to respond to my request before the end of this week but this has not happened. I am therefore requesting an internal review to examine why the Commission has failed to provide a substantive response within the statutory time limit on this occasion.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/de...

I would also appreciate it if you would provide me with a revised estimate as to when I can expect to receive a response to this request.

Yours faithfully,

Helen Cross

Stephanie Payne, Electoral Commission

I'm now out of the office until Thursday 8 September, and will not be checking email in my absence.

If you have an urgent query, or are emailing in relation to a Freedom of Information request, please forward your email to Janice Reid

[email address]<mailto:[email address]>

Kind regards,
Stephanie

Stephanie Payne
Information Adviser
The Electoral Commission
3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ

Tel: 020 7271 0653
Fax: 020 7271 0505
www.electoralcommission.org.uk<http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/>

Danny Creighton, Electoral Commission

Our Ref: FOI 54/11

Dear Helen Cross,

Following Stephanie Payne's email to you dated 23 August 2011, I am writing to apologise for the further delay in replying to your Freedom of Information request received by the Commission on 28 April 2011, and to assure you that we will be providing a response as soon as possible. The relevant team are currently working on the response and they hope to be able to provide this to you by the end of this week.

The Commission aims to respond to requests for information promptly and within the statutory timeframe of twenty working days, and we regret that we haven't been able to do so in this instance.

Yours sincerely,

Danny Creighton<http://mysites/Person.aspx?accountname=E...>
Information Adviser
The Electoral Commission
3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ
Tel: 020 7271 0554
Fax: 020 7271 0500
www.electoralcommission.org.uk<http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/>

Make sure you are registered to vote<http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/>
Follow us on Twitter<http://twitter.com/ElectoralCommUK>

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David Hampson, Electoral Commission

Dear Ms Cross,

Thank you for your email dated 2 September 2011 requesting an internal
review of how the Commission has handled your FOI request ‘Details of
allegations received’. I apologise that we have not been able to
acknowledge your request for the review earlier. Stephanie has been out of
the office until today. Stephanie’s out of office message gave details
of another member of the Information Management Team (Janice Reid) to
contact while she was on leave. However, the message does not appear to
have been sent to Janice.

The Commission’s review procedure provides that “where appropriate, we
may attempt to address your concerns swiftly and satisfactorily on an
informal basis”. In this case it seems appropriate to try to address
your concern in this manner rather than to commence the formal review
procedure. I hope that the information below addresses your concern
satisfactorily.

I apologise for the delay it has taken to respond to your FOI request. The
delay has been caused by a number of factors. Your request related to a
large amount of information, i.e. information from all allegations
received by the Commission’s Party and Election Finance Team since 1
January 2008. The information already held by the Commission could not
have been quickly shared with you because in most cases it included
details of the individuals and entities involved in the allegation or
information that could lead to them being identified. That information was
not within the scope of your request and was also likely to be exempt from
disclosure under section 40(2) FOI Act. Therefore to provide the
information you requested we have had to redraft the information we held,
especially the summaries of each allegation. Given the large number of
allegations received by the Commission since January 2008, this has been a
time consuming exercise. The Commission has been close to exceeding the
statutory time limit of 18 hours. If a request will take over 18 hours to
comply with, the Commission is not required to provide the information
requested (section 12 FOI Act).

The Commission has also been trying to ensure that the style and format of
the information released will be clear and comprehensible to the public.
The Commission publishes its FOI responses on its website and wishes to
ensure that the information it provides is as user-friendly as possible,
as well as being comprehensive and accurate. This means it has taken
longer to provide a response.

In addition to the above factors, a senior Commission official whose
expertise was required to be able to produce a comprehensive, accurate and
clear response has been absent for part of time we have been working on
your request.

I hope this information explains the delay in this case. By way of a
suggested resolution to your internal review, the Commission will provide
a response to your FOI request as soon as possible and no later than 5pm
tomorrow. If you are not happy with the response to your FOI request, you
are free to request an internal review of the response. Rather than follow
the formal internal review procedure now, very shortly before sending the
response, this informal approach seems like the best way to resolve your
current review. Please let me know if this is not satisfactory and you
wish the matter to be dealt with under our formal review procedure.

I apologise again for the delay and hope that this explanation and the
detailed response to your FOI request tomorrow will satisfy your current
concern.

Please contact me if you have any questions or wish to discuss.

Yours sincerely,

David Hampson
Lawyer - Electoral Administration
The Electoral Commission
3 Bunhill Row
London
EC1Y 8YZ
Tel: 020 7271 0549
Fax: 020 7271 0505
[1]www.electoralcommission.org.uk
[2]www.aboutmyvote.co.uk

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PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE
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Thank you.

show quoted sections

Dear David Hampson,

Thank You for your email. I fully appreciate that there may be rare occasions where, despite the considerable efforts of all those involved, it is not possible to meet the statutory deadline for providing a response to an FOI request.

In light of the detailed and comprehensive explanation that you have kindly provided, and the fact that you expect to be able to provide a response to this request before 5pm tomorrow, I no longer feel it is necessary to conduct a formal review at this stage.

Yours sincerely,

Helen Cross

Stephanie Payne, Electoral Commission

1 Attachment

Our ref: FOI 54/11

Dear Helen Cross,

Thank-you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 dated 26 July 2011.

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

Your request is in bold below followed by our response.

You have requested:

Please provide me with a list of;
1- The allegation reference number, e.g. A-1108;
2- The date the allegation was entered onto your system;
3- Summary of the allegation;
4- The outcome, eg closed following initial assessment, under review, closed following review, closed following investigation or deferred or other;
5- The finding in each case eg: No failure to comply, failure to comply - no action taken, failure to comply - action taken, deferred or other;
6- The closure reason, eg Public interest, donation forfeited, lack of evidence;
for all allegations of potential breaches of electoral law dealt with by the Party and Election finance team between 1 January 2008 and the present date (26/07/2011).

Our response is as follows:

The attached document provides a list of allegations of potential breaches of electoral law deal with by the Party and Election Finance enforcement team for the period you specify. We have interpreted the period as referring to cases opened on or after 1 January 2008, and closed on or before 26 July 2011.

The list includes the allegation reference number, the date the case was logged for assessment, the outcome (closed following assessment, closed following review, closed following investigation) and the decision/closure reason. As the list includes only closed cases, none are under review or deferred. In case it is helpful I can confirm that there are currently no deferred cases.

For your information, we have included the following background information about our allegation handling process and outcome/decision categories. We have a three stage process for handling allegations:

Stage 1 - "initial assessment" - at this stage, we assess matters raised with us or consider information we have become aware of ourselves, for example through statutory returns or press reports, to establish if there is a potential breach of Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) or Representation of the People Act 1983 (RPA) and, if so, whether in light of public interest and proportionality considerations, it warrants referral for a case review or investigation.

Stage 2 - "Case Review" - Where the initial assessment suggests there may be a breach of PPERA or the RPA, we seek to determine whether there has been a breach. We do so by referring to information provided to us or which we become aware as a result of enquiries. We will not at this stage use our formal powers of investigation and will not conduct interviews.

Stage 3 - "Investigation" - We carry out impartial, fair and objective investigations and will commence an investigation where we need to use our statutory powers to obtain information and/or where we need to interview individuals in order to obtain information necessary to determine here there has been a breach of PPERA or the RPA.

In light of the above, we have categorised the outcomes as:

* Closed after initial assessment: the matter was concluded after initial assessment, usually because the matter was out of our jurisdiction, had previously been considered, disclosed no potential breach of PPERA or the RPA or lacked sufficient evidence of such a breach.
* Closed after review; the matter was concluded following stage 2;
* Closed following investigation; the matter was concluded following stage 3; and

Prior to 1 December 2010 the final decision taken in each case is listed as either:

* No Failure to Comply: enquiries did not disclose evidence of a failure to comply with the rules, , whether this was due to insufficient evidence or the alleged breach was outside the jurisdiction of the Commission and so no further action was taken, or there was insufficient evidence of a breach and it was not considered in the public interest to pursue the matter further. For example there was insufficient evidence of a breach or evidence was found that no breach occurred (see closure reason listed in each specific case).
* Failure to Comply -Action Taken: enquiries found evidence of a failure to comply with the regulations and action was deemed to be warranted.
* Failure to Comply - No Action Taken: although enquiries found evidence of a failure to comply with the regulations, in light of the facts of the case it was not deemed appropriate to take further action. For example, further action would not be proportionate in light of the nature of the breach or action already taken by the recipient, or the breach in question does not have an associated penalty or offence (see closure reason listed in each specific case. In this context 'no action' means no sanction. In cases where a failure to comply was found, and in some where compliance could not be established, the Commission writes to the subject of the case, either reminding the subject of their duties or responsibilities, or providing guidance, or both.
* Unable to establish non-compliance - The breach has not been proven to the standards of evidence required by law

For cases alleging breaches that occurred after 1 December 2010 the final decision is listed as:

* No determination of breach - The evidence obtained is not sufficient to establish a breach to the standards of evidence required by the law, and/or it is not considered proportionate or in the public interest to pursue the matter further.
* No breach - the facts demonstrate no breach of the rules
* Already reviewed - this case has already been looked at
* Breach: Civil Sanction Not Appropriate -The facts disclose a breach has occurred but in light of the circumstances, it was not proportionate to apply a sanction.

I note that you have "not requested the names of any of the parties, regulated donees or recognised third parties involved" and are "not interested in receiving information that identifies either the complainant or the respondent in any of these cases".

I trust that this information satisfies your request. 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: 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: http://www.ico.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Stephanie Payne

Stephanie Payne
Information Adviser
The Electoral Commission
3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ
Tel: 020 7271 0653
Fax: 020 7271 0505
www.electoralcommission.org.uk<http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/>

Make sure you are registered to vote<http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/>
Follow us on Twitter<http://twitter.com/ElectoralCommUK>

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