Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Win for UKIP - Shame on the Electoral Commission

It's not often I reprint a UKIP press release, but there's a first time for everything.

The Supreme Court today ruled in favour of UKIP over a case of party donations.

Between December 2004 and February 2006, Alan Bown, a retired businessman had donated a total of £349,216 to the party. During that time, due to an oversight Mr Bown was not on the UK electoral register which, under the law suggested that he was not a British resident. This was obviously not the case.


UKIP had argued that the forfeit should amount to £14,481 donated after the party became aware of the oversight, as did the initial Court ruling. The Electoral Commission believed that the whole sum should be forfeit.


In a 4-3 judgement the Supreme Court found that the spirit of the law counted more than the letter.


Speaking after the judgement Alan Bown said,

"I am pleased and relieved that this is all over. I feel no animosity towards the Electoral Commission, we understand they have a job to do. I always had confidence that British Justice would play fair. Now I have evidence that this is the case. Now intend to launch a UKIP membership drive, through a concerted leafleting campaign".

Lord Pearson, the UKIP leader said,

"We are delighted with the result. We can now concentrate on our job... working towards Britain leaving the European Union".

The Judgement


The Supreme Court Press Summary


Alan Bown says he bears no ill will towards the Electoral Commission. He may not do, but this case raises some serious questions about their operations and how they reach their judgements. It will be interesting to see what they say in response to this judgement.

Just by way of background, Mr Bown donated a six figure some to UKIP. It was then found that his local authority had left him off the electoral register, despite the fact he had been on it in previous years. Technically, therefore the donation wasn't legal.

I have previosuly written about this case HERE and HERE.

21 comments:

tapestry said...

Pearson seems to have remembered what UKIP is all about at last. Now he's defined the objective, will he declare his strategy as to how he hopes to achieve it.

Delusions of Grandeur said...

UKIP should really hire a proof reader for their press release. Shocking attention to detail.

ukipwebmaster said...

Thanks Iain!

Indy said...

Agree generally but:

1. It is your responsibility to make sure you are on the electoral register - not the local authority's responsibility.

2. It is the responsibility of a political party to ensure that a donor is permissible (i.e. on the electoral register) BEFORE they accept any donations. Not after the donation has been accepted.

It’s fair comment to say that the Electoral Commission is wildly inconsistent in the way they deal with infringements but UKIP were still quite clearly in the wrong. There is no "technically" about it. The donation was not legal.

Roger Thornhill said...

@indy,

One should question why being ON the electoral roll was the sole criteria. Yes, one should be ELIGIBLE to be on the electoral roll to donate, but actually on it should be neither here nor there. The roll is a convenient way to ensure one IS eligible to donate, but not being on it should not be proof one is ineligible.

Libertarian said...

@indy

which donation was not legal?

Libertarian said...

indy

by the way a couple of years ago i registered as an elector via the web and got a confirmation that i was registered by email.

I received no polling card and despite ringing and saying I had not yet got one I was told to be patient as it would arrive. It didn't and when i went to the polling station to vote I was told I wasn't registered.


So no it's not my responsibility the council officials are responsible for processing paper work correctly

Scully said...

I agree with the thrust of your view in that there has been dreadful inconsistency by the Electoral Commission. However one thought came to mind when reading this, did Mr Bown not realise that he wasn't on the electoral register when he didn't get a vote at the General Election that year?

Glyn H said...

The Electoral commission has been exposed as partisan, but then what do you expect? Any quango is loyal to the folk who appointed it, until the government changes when it is loyal to itself and will do its utmost to rend its raiment in public and embarrass the new regime. Sir Hugh Ord recently was a classic of the genre.
The EC have pandered to Labour for years (en passent; what a hoot Straw was on Today yesterday - thundering humbug). Just as the postal votes system is a hugh Labour scam, the BBC are still very N/Lab partisan and sqwark like hell if anyone chose to vote BNP who have a perfectly legitimate point of view, JUST AS HAVE the muslims who want to take over the state; in the latter case we should just expose their humbug over living in social housing and on benefits in the 'vile' west. What I want of the BBC/Media folk is a Life of Brian about the prophet. That would bring the pains on...and not before time. Islam is a political movement, not a religion, and should be treated as such.

PS Don't much like no comments on the phone, found the old system just fine.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Err, we pay taxes for a local authority to keep an electoral roll ... but they're not liable if they mess up?

I'd like a job like that, and a nice desk on which to permanently put my feet up. ;)

Indy said...

Roger the law says that, in order to be a permissible donor, you have to be on the electoral register. It may be that the law is badly drafted but that's what it says.

It is made abundantly clear to political parties that they have to verify whether someone is a permissible donor if they wish to accept a donation of over £500. UKIP should have checked.

I agree with the judgement that the Electoral Commission response was too draconian - but equally I think the UKIP press release should have recognised that they had some responsibility rather than ascribing everything to an oversight.

William said...

Electoral Commission a law unto themselves? Go to www.newsnetscotland.com to see how they are withholding information

Tony Lorusso said...

The Electoral Commission shouldn't have gone after UKIP for the donations they accepted when they didn't know they were illegal.

What they should have done is hit the f****** roof over the donations that UKIP accepted when they did know they were illegal. UKIP got off lightly by just having that smaller amount confiscated.

Ian said...

It is clear that the Chairman of the electoral commission has been the driving force behind this persecution- no doubt she has been true to her "new labour" beliefs. She should resign tonight though I am one who feels she be publically humilated further and sacked.

pete-s said...

Interesting judgement that the Supreme court were not going to be pedantic and side with the letter of the law, but go with the spirit.

M said...

If you go to http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=420:electoral-commission-was-criticised-over-wendygate&catid=1:politics&Itemid=2
you will read how the Electoral Commission also lets off Labour politicians who break the rules on illegal donations.

Alister said...

The problem I have with all this is that if you do send in your form to appear on the electoral roll, you get nothing back, you have to go in to the offices and view it!
Now what is to say the post office didn't loose the form, nor the council, or did someone miss file it or reject it?
These measures were brought in as a pure anti tory measure, the fact that ukip get caught out is a bonus for Labour

Indy said...

Libertarian - where did you register to vote online?

I am not aware that it is possible to do this, as electoral registration offices require a signature on the form.

Tony Lorusso said...

The EC's inconsistency in applying the law is deeply disturbing, but that still doesn't excuse UKIP's actions.

jojoko said...

Indy: Libertarian may live in my constituency where we can register for the electoral roll online - It is on the east coast.

jojoko said...

As to the punishment UKIP received for accepting an illegal donation: The LibDems accepted a much bigger donation and the donor promptly skipped the country when found out. The electoral commission did not pass a draconian judgment on the LibDems because they "had accepted the donation in good faith". So there's one sauce for the goose and another for the gander. Suppose that's ok, then.