Second police investigation into publication of postal vote information

During the week Alex Foster blogged about the case of Bristol East Labour MP Kerry McCarthy who is facing a police investigation following a tweet giving voting figures from a postal vote opening.* She subsequently deleted the tweet and apologised but we await the outcome of the police investigation.

I now hear there is a second police investigation taking place, this time into a Scottish blogger who published information that was apparently supplied by the SNP based on postal vote opening in several constituencies. The post (subsequently removed) appeared on SNP Tactical Voting and made reference to three different constituencies.

The Returning Officer in one of the constituencies involved has confirmed that the matter has been referred to the police for investigation.

* There are two legal problems this could run in to: (a) the law banning ‘exit poll’ information based on how people have voted and (b) the secrecy rules imposed on people who attend postal vote openings.

UPDATE: I’ve changed the headline to bring it more into line with the text. The information in question was about how well or badly different parties were doing rather than direct numbers as in Kerry McCarthy’s case.

UPDATE 2: The BBC has more on the story: “A police force in Scotland has confirmed to the BBC that they are investigating a complaint that electoral law has been broken. … The post has been removed and Jeff Breslin, who runs the blog, has resigned from the party.”

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This entry was posted in Election law.


  • Silent Hunter 2nd May '10 - 11:51pm

    I can’t believe that a thoroughly likeable chap like Jeff would do this intentionally.

    Perhaps it was just inexperience or lack of knowledge on his part.

    I would suggest Mark that the real people to watch out for are the Labour lot who have form when it comes to actively rigging the postal vote. Remember the 3 Labour Councillors in Birmingham, caught red handed stuffing ballot boxes in a warehouse at the dead of night.

    The real scandal was that they escaped prosecution for vote rigging.

    But then, since Baroness Udin escaped justice at the hands of the crap CPS – nothing really surprises me when it comes to prosecuting fraudulent Labour folk.

  • Thanks for the kind words in the above comments and I can assure all that this is the first I’ve heard of it being a police matter.

    I was passed on some hearsay on results, I posted it up (no figures included), the rules were pointed out to me by someone of a legal mind and, whether I or others broke those rules or not, I pulled the post at first opportunity.

    I’d be surprised if that constitutes criminal conduct but Mark (or whoever at LDV), i’d appreciate this post being pulled or at least having the inaccuracies removed. Specifically the mention of “figures” which is simply a false accusation to make and consequently an unfortunate fanning of a potentially painful flame.



  • Damage done as far as I’m concerned Mark, considering the short shelf life of blog posts.

    I still think “information” is misleading but it’s your call I suppose.

  • David Heigham 3rd May '10 - 10:44am

    I think it is legal to mention votes declared publicly by the Returning Officers during a general election period.

    The latest for a principal local authority from the ADLC website is the 62% swing on April 15 from Con to LD in a Fenland District Council by-election (and/or 13% for the County Council seat.)

  • I have always been sceptical of the “postal vote” as it is wide open to abuse, these blogs have confirmed my worst fears.There must be other schemes to allow the infirm to vote which could be much more closely scrutinised. Get rid of postal votes once and for all and restore our faith in the secret ballot.

  • The BBC have just put the story up on the Election 2010 website this evening. Here is the link

  • Look at Jeff squirming, asking for this post to be taken down. The cybernats do not like it up them.

    What do Jeff’s employers think of all this?

  • Richard, what have Jeff’s employers got to do with this?
    Alec, you sure know how to pay a back-handed compliment.
    Jeff, you can’t write as incisively as you do, and then play the daft laddie.

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