Rebecca Sharpe

Dear Electoral Commission,

On 21 April 2010, the Daily Mail reported that "the Electoral Commission found that Vote For A Change failed to declare donations from the Electoral Reform Society in the form of free office space and staff time last April and May".

Please can you provide me with a copy of the Commission's final findings/ruling made in respect of any complaint(s) raised against Vote For A Change.

Yours faithfully,

Rebecca Sharpe

Stephanie Payne, Electoral Commission

Our ref: FOI 35/11

Dear Rebecca Sharpe,

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act dated 30 May 2011 and received by the Commission on 31 May 2011, and my apologies for not acknowledging your request before now.

You have requested:

On 21 April 2010, the Daily Mail reported that "the Electoral Commission found that Vote For A Change failed to declare donations from the Electoral Reform Society in the form of free office space and staff time last April and May".

Please can you provide me with a copy of the Commission's final findings/ruling made in respect of any complaint(s) raised against Vote For A Change

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 28 June 2011.

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>

Democracy matters

Stephanie Payne, Electoral Commission

Our ref: FOI 35/11

Dear Rebecca Sharpe,

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 dated 30 May 2011 and received by the Electoral Commission on 31 May 2011.

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.

You have requested:

On 21 April 2010, the Daily Mail reported that "the Electoral Commission found that Vote for a Change failed to declare donations from the Electoral Reform Society in the form of free office space and staff time last April and May".

Please can you provide me with a copy of the Commission's final findings/ruling made in respect of any complaint(s) raised against Vote for a Change.

Our response is as follows:

The Commission does hold information regarding an allegation concerning the 2010 UK Parliamentary General Election third party campaign expenditure return of Vote for a Change Ltd (VFC).

The Commission opened a case review in response to an allegation in respect of the expenditure return for VFC. The review considered whether there had been a breach of the Political Parties, Elections & Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA). Specifically, the review considered a number of instances of potentially unreported expenditure incurred by VFC during the 2010 UKPGE campaign, including the reporting of expenditure around: use of office space by VFC; use of Electoral Reform Society staff time by VFC; and use of members of staff from other organisations by VFC.
Since 1 December 2010 we have had a range of new civil powers and sanctions relating to our enforcement provisions and investigative work to use as an alternative to a Police referral for potential criminal offence. However, the use of these sanctions are only an option for any breaches that occur after this date and so were not relevant for the purposes of this review. Our role here was limited to determining whether it was in the public interest to refer the case to the police. This page on our website gives more information on the legislation governing the Commission's role and responsibilities with regard to referendums:
http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/el...
In an internal case report, we concluded that reporting errors had occurred. However we found no evidence to indicate that they were deliberate. Rather, they appeared, on the basis of information available, to be of an administrative nature. Additionally, the level of potentially undisclosed expenditure was not of such a level to be significant enough to as to warrant referral for criminal investigation. It was noted that VFC sought advice from the Commission prior to submitting their return and acknowledged undeclared expenditure in response to enquiries and have now submitted an amended return. Finally, given the amounts at issue, there is no risk that VFC exceeded the expenditure limit for a registered third party.

As a result of the conclusions reached, the Commission requested, and VFC agreed, that an amended return be submitted including expenditure previously not reported. The amended return will be published on the Commission's website shortly, and I will email you to notify you when it has been published.

The Commission considers the information contained within the case report to be exempt under sections 30(1) and 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act.

Section 30(1) (a) (i)

Under The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), the Commission has a statutory function to conduct investigations into potential breaches of party and election funding rules. The information requested is held by the Commission in relation to its case review regarding VFC's third party 2010 UK Parliamentary General Election campaign expenditure return.

Section 30(1) (a) (i) 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. The section 30 exemption applies to information that is held at any time, whether or not the investigation is on-going.

The Commission considers that disclosure of information relating to this case would prejudice the exercise of the Commission's statutory functions and its ability to conduct investigations such as in this matter. In this case, it was considered that it would not be in the public interest to engage in formal enforcement action. Such disclosure would not be appropriate given the ultimate conclusion.

As the report contains detail of evidence obtained from VFC, disclosure may also hinder the future production of information from third parties, thus limiting the Commission's ability to collect evidence as part of its regulatory functions. This would prejudice the Commission's ability to conduct its statutory duty. It may further act to either inhibit allegations or potentially encourage spurious allegations being made to the Commission if the details concerning outcomes of "unsuccessful" allegations are generally released.

The Commission therefore considers that disclosure of the requested information would prejudice the exercise of the Commission's statutory functions and its ability to conduct investigations such as in this matter.

Application of the section 30 exemption is subject to the public interest test. There are a number of factors that must be considered and weighed in the balance. These factors are that:

* The Commission has a statutory duty to monitor compliance with the provisions of PPERA when conducting inquiries of this type. 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.

* The release of details of evidence obtained from a registered third party would be likely to prejudice the exercise of the Commission's statutory functions under PPERA and its ability to conduct investigations such as this in the future. There are two reasons for this:

1. 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. In this case, the entity which did provide information did so on a voluntary basis. Individuals and entities 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 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 and quality of information provided to the Commission during its investigation which would prejudice the Commission's ability to conduct its statutory functions.

2. The co-operation of the regulated community for example, other enforcement agencies, is essential to our ability to conduct our statutory functions. It is particularly important to ensuring we are able to obtain information in a timely manner. As our investigations 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

* In addition, in this case, the Commission sought, and VFC has provided, an amended return including expenditure not previously declared. We consider that there is a clear public interest in ensuring that the expenditure identified as not previously reported is made public. We consider that the publication of the amended return, which is expected to take place on 28 June 2011, will ensure that this public interest in transparency is satisfied.

Having carefully weighed the public interest relating to possible disclosure of the information requested under Section 30(1) (a) (i) we are satisfied that it is not appropriate at this time to disclose all the information which the Commission holds.

The Commission is satisfied that maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

Section 40(2)

Some of the requested information falls within section 40(2). Section 40(2) provides for an exemption where the information requested constitutes personal data as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), and where release of the information requested would breach one of the data protection principles. Some of the information contained in the relevant document falls within the description of personal data as defined by section 1 of the DPA because the information relates directly to an identifiable living individual.

The relevant information also contains sensitive personal data of those involved in the Commission's investigation. Disclosure of the personal data and sensitive personal data would contravene the first principle of the DPA.
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 it would not be disclosed to the general public including in connection with this investigation. This would also affect our ability to obtain information from them in the future in relation to other investigations, if required.

Accordingly the Commission is not satisfied that under section 40 (2) it would be lawful or fair to provide you with the personal data contained in the document requested.

I realise that you may be disappointed by this response. 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: 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>

Democracy matters

Helen Cross left an annotation ()

I was the complainant in this case. Whilst I can't provide a copy of the Commission's communications with Vote for a Change, I can provide a copy of the ruling as it was communicated to me: http://www.scribd.com/doc/57930559/Adams...

Rebecca Sharpe left an annotation ()

Thank you, that is very helpful. I am going to request an internal review because the public interest in having transparency in issues of election finance would seem to me to favour disclosure.

Rebecca Sharpe

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 the Electoral Commission's handling of my FOI request 'Vote For A Change'. I would expect all aspects of the way my request was handled to be examined, but to assist you with the internal review process I list below the areas where I am dissatisfied with the Electoral Commission's response.

1. The Commission has sought to rely on the Section 30 exemption however taking into account the fact that the case review has been concluded and there are currently no investigations ongoing the public interest would favour the publication of the Commission's findings.

2. The public interest in favour of disclosure is strengthened by the following factors:

(a) the fact the Commission found inaccuracies in a return that was legally required to be accurate.
(b) the fact that it was found to be appropriate to submit a revised return.
(c) the fact that at the time the Commission responded an inaccurate return was still on the public register and there was no notice on the public register to warn members of the public that the return had been found to be inaccurate or that a revised return was to be published.
(d) there is a general public interest in understanding why the Electoral Commission decided not to take action even though an inaccurate return had been filed
(e) the fact the decision has been commented on the national press

3. Many other public bodies with regulatory functions publish their findings as a matter of routine for example the Information Commissioner publishes all its Decision Notices in relation to rulings made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Health and Safety Executive maintains on its website a public register of enforcement notices: http://www.hse.gov.uk/notices/.

4. It is difficult for the public to be satisfied that the Commission's handling of complaints is consistent across candidates, parties and campaigning groups if formal decisions are not published, particularly where no case summary has been prepared.

5. The Commission refers to "sensitive personal data" in its response but does not provide further details. It is difficult for me to comment further on this matter without receiving further explanation. I would however note that a senior employee or official who was found by the Commission to have filed an inaccurate return on a public register would not have a reasonable expectation of confidentiality. In any case, the fact that that document requested may contain sensitive personal data would not justify witholding the entire document. The Commission is entitled to use the section 40 exemption to make redactions as may be appropriate.

6. Although the Commission does not classify case reviews as investigations this is largely a matter of semantics. Case review findings represent a formal decision by an independent public body following enquiries paid for by public funds.

7. The Commissions finds must presumably include facts and figures that appeared or ought to have appeared in the public register. There can be no public interest whatsoever in failing to release those parts of the decision.

8. The Commissions argument that releasing the findings may be lead to organisations or individuals being less inclined to cooperate with reviews/investigations in the future would only be valid if I had requested correspondence between the Commission and the parties involved. any organisation or individual under investigation must already have a legitimate expectation that the findings of a review would be made known if it is concluded that errors had been made.

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

Yours faithfully,

Rebecca Sharpe

Stephanie Payne, Electoral Commission

Our ref: FOI 35/11

Dear Rebecca Sharpe,

The amended Vote for a Change return has now been published on the Commission's website:
https://pefonline.electoralcommission.or...

I've received your request for an internal review on our response to FOI 35/11, and will email you separately about that shortly.

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>

Democracy matters

show quoted sections

Stephanie Payne, Electoral Commission

Our ref: RFOI 35/11

Dear Rebecca Sharpe,

Thank you for your request for review under the Freedom of Information Act of FOI 23/10 dated 5 July 2011.

Your original request, dated 30 May 2011 and received by the Electoral Commission on 31 May 2011, was:

On 21 April 2010, the Daily Mail reported that "the Electoral Commission found that Vote for a Change failed to declare donations from the Electoral Reform Society in the form of free office space and staff time last April and May".

Please can you provide me with a copy of the Commission's final findings/ruling made in respect of any complaint(s) raised against Vote for a Change.

The Commission aims to respond to requests for review promptly and will make every effort to send a detailed response within 20 working days, by 2 August 2011.

Where this is not possible, you will receive a letter explaining why, and given a date by which you will receive a detailed reply. In any event, we will not exceed 40 working days in responding to your request.

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>

Democracy matters

Rebecca Sharpe

Dear Stephanie Payne,

Thank you for your earlier email informing me about the amended Vote for a Change return. Unfortunately the link that you sent me does not work. The following error message is displayed:

"Access to this page has been denied

Access to the page you are looking for has been denied. This may have been caused because you do not have permission to see it, because your user session has been inactive for an extended period of time, because you accessed the page through an abnormal route, or because the page is temporarily unavailable.

Please click here to navigate to the Party and Election Finance Online home page.

This link will take you to https://pefonline.electoralcommission.or....

Why am I seeing this message?

The statutory registers maintained by The Electoral Commission have moved to a new website called Party and Election Finance Online.

The pages that could previously be found at http://registers.electoralcommission.org... are no longer available.

If you require any further information, please contact the PEF Helpline on 020 7271 0616 or email us at [email address]."

Yours sincerely,

Rebecca Sharpe

Stephanie Payne, Electoral Commission

Dear Rebecca Sharpe,

I'm sorry about that - I tried to provide a link direct to the particular section of Party and Election Finance Online that you needed, but that clearly didn't work.

To see the amended return please go to the Party and Election Finance Online home page at
https://pefonline.electoralcommission.or...

Select 'campaign expenditure search' from the dark blue left-hand navigation menu, and type Vote for a Change in the 'free text' search box.

Click on the dark blue 'Go' button, and the amended return is the only item that appears in the results list.

Please get back to me if you have any further problems.

Yours sincerely,
Stephanie Payne

show quoted sections

Helen Cross left an annotation ()

If you want to see a copy of the actual return,this can be found here: http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__...

It is perhaps more useful, as it has a list of all relevant transactions. The ones in black are newly declared. For comparison, the original return can be found here:
http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__...

Hope that is helpful to you.

David Hampson, Electoral Commission

Our ref: RFOI 35/11

Dear Rebecca Sharpe,

Further to the email below, your request for review has been passed to an
internal reviewer. The internal reviewer is Kay Jenkins, Head of
Performance and Head of the Wales Office at the Commission.

The Commission will make every effort to send you a detailed response
within 20 working days, by 2 August 2011.

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

Democracy matters

P Please consider the environment before printing this email.

PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE
This message is confidential and intended only for the person to whom it
is addressed. It may contain privileged and confidential information. If
you are not the intended recipient you must not read, copy, distribute,
discuss or take any action in reliance upon it. If you have received this
information in error, please destroy it and inform me as soon as possible.
Thank you.

____________________________________________
From: Stephanie Payne
Sent: 06 July 2011 20:49
To: '[FOI #73428 email]'
Subject: RE: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Vote For
A Change (RFOI 35/11)

Our ref: RFOI 35/11

Dear Rebecca Sharpe,

Thank you for your request for review under the Freedom of Information Act
of FOI 23/10 dated 5 July 2011.

Your original request, dated 30 May 2011 and received by the Electoral
Commission on 31 May 2011, was:

On 21 April 2010, the Daily Mail reported that "the Electoral Commission
found that Vote for a Change failed to declare donations from the
Electoral Reform Society in the form of free office space and staff time
last April and May".

Please can you provide me with a copy of the Commission's final
findings/ruling made in respect of any complaint(s) raised against Vote
for a Change.

The Commission aims to respond to requests for review promptly and will
make every effort to send a detailed response within 20 working days, by 2
August 2011.

Where this is not possible, you will receive a letter explaining why, and
given a date by which you will receive a detailed reply. In any event, we
will not exceed 40 working days in responding to your request.

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
[3]www.electoralcommission.org.uk

Make sure you are [4]registered to vote
Follow us on [5]Twitter

Democracy matters

References

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5. http://twitter.com/ElectoralCommUK

Danny Creighton, Electoral Commission

Dear Rebecca Sharpe,

Thank you for your email of 5 July 2011, requesting an internal review of the Commission's handling of your Freedom of Information request regarding Vote for a Change. I was asked to undertake the review because I was not in any way involved in the original decision-making process. I have reconsidered your original request, based on the points raised in your email of 5 July, the history of your FOI request and correspondence to which you referred me.
You submitted a Freedom of Information Request on 30 May 2011, asking for the Commission's final findings/ruling made in respect of any complaint(s) raised against Vote for a Change. The Daily Mail had reported on 21 April 2011 that "the Electoral Commission found that Vote for a Change failed to declare donations from the Electoral Reform Society in the form of free office space and staff time last April and May".
We responded on 28 June to the effect that we did hold information regarding an allegation concerning the 2010 UK Parliamentary General Election third party campaign expenditure return of Vote for a Change Ltd (VFC). Our response outlined the actions we had taken, concluding with an amended expenditure return being submitted at our request by VFC, including expenditure previously not reported. We advised that the amended return would be published on our website shortly.
We considered, however, that the information contained within the case report to be exempt under sections 30(1) and 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act, and gave you our reasons for concluding that.
In your email of 5 July, you set out your views as to why the public interest in favour of disclosure is strengthened by six factors, which you outline in paragraphs 1 and 2, along with six other reasons, which you outline in paragraphs 3 to 8, as to why you think the information should be released. I have considered each of the points you have raised.
Decision
I have considered the reasons in your request for review of 5 July, your original FOI request of 30 May and our response to your original request of 28 June. Having reviewed these, I consider that the exemptions in section 30(1) and 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act are engaged. I am satisfied that in the circumstances of this case it is in the public interest for the Commission to rely on those exemptions.
Reasons for the decision
Section 30(1)(a)(i) gives exemption for disclosure of information that 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. The exemption applies to information that is held at any time, whether or not the investigation is on-going.
Bearing in mind the final outcome of the VFC case, where an amended expenditure return was published on our website, we did not consider formal enforcement action to be in the public interest. If we released details of cases where unsuccessful allegations had been made, this would be likely to encourage spurious or even malicious allegations.
Further, disclosure would be likely to hinder our future ability to collect evidence from third parties, as part of our regulatory duties. This would inhibit our reporting of third party expenditure.
I therefore concur with the Commission's original reason for not disclosing the requested information, because it would prejudice our regulatory functions and our future ability to conduct investigations and case reviews.
I understand the points you make about the public interest in the matter, particularly as it has been commented on in the national press. However, it is essential that we are able to exchange information and interact with those we regulate frankly. We are assisted in meeting our statutory functions when those we regulate cooperate with us, enabling us to gather evidence and facts confidentially. Disclosure in this case would be likely to have a significant impact on the level of voluntary cooperation we would achieve in future, as this entity in this case provided information voluntarily. This in turn will affect the quality and type of information we garner. Without cooperation of those concerned, casework can take much longer, require coercive action, and be less effective. It is in the public interest that we conduct our regulatory functions effectively and in a timely fashion. Disclosure in this case would be likely to prejudice our ability to achieve that.
Although I have considered all the public interest points you make, I do not believe these outweigh the Commission's original view that disclosure of all the information that we hold in this case will prejudice our ability to carry out our regulatory functions.
Concerning the disclosure of personal data and the Section 40(2) exemption, you say that a person who had filed an inaccurate return would not have a reasonable expectation of confidentiality and would have a legitimate expectation that the findings of a case review would be made known, if it is concluded that errors had been made. However, since the expenditure return was amended as we requested and no enforcement action was necessary, the individual would have a legitimate expectation that their details would not be released. To release personal data about an individual when that individual has complied with our request to submit a further return would be not be justifiable.
Your belief that the difference between a case review and an investigation is one of semantics is misplaced; case reviews and investigations entail different procedures on our part and an investigation is an escalation of activity. Further, some of the information contained in the relevant document relates directly to an identifiable living individual and is personal data defined by Section 1 of the Data Protection Act. All of these points go again to prejudicing our future ability to obtain information from individuals voluntarily if disclosure were made in these circumstances.
Conclusion
I have considered carefully your arguments about public interest in this case, but conclude that these are outweighed by non-disclosure. I have concluded that, in the public interest, it is necessary to uphold the exemptions and to withhold the information you have requested.
I am sorry this will be disappointing to you. If you remain dissatisfied, you have the right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Details of the appeal procedure can be found on the ICO website: http://www.ico.gov.uk/

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>

Make sure you are registered to vote<http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk>
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* Please consider the environment before printing this email.

Rebecca Sharpe left an annotation ()

I am going to appeal to the ICO shortly.

Helen Cross left an annotation ()

You might find the following helpful as the Information Tribunal has already commented on the application of a Section 40 exemption in cases such as this:

".In regard to the s56 aspect, Mr Ferguson pointed out the circular, even Orwellian, nature of the other parties’ submissions. Their arguments amounted to this: Ms Alexander committed an offence; the Electoral Commission, by deciding not to refer the offence to the Procurator Fiscal, effectively granted her an amnesty; so the Electoral Commission cannot reveal to the public its full reasoning on why the amnesty was granted, because Ms Alexander will not have the opportunity of having the matter ventilated in a criminal court. Like Mr Ferguson, we cannot see how in these circumstances unfairness can be claimed on Ms Alexander’s behalf. She has been spared having to face criminal proceedings. And if there were further public debate about her conduct under s56(3) resulting from the disclosure of the answers to questions 22 and 26, she would be well able to say in mitigation anything that she wished by making public statements, as any serious politician would."

http://bit.ly/prWRA3

That ruling also contain statements on the application of the Section 30 exemption that may be useful to you.

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