The Electoral Commission has today dismissed the nonsensical claims made in the press that Business for Scotland and the SNP broke campaigning rules by ‘working together’ during the 2014 referendum campaign.
The Electoral Commission, in its letter to Business for Scotland, clearly states: “We are not opening an investigation or otherwise pursuing this matter further. We have seen no information or evidence that the SNP and BFS worked together to an agreed plan to promote or procure a ‘yes’ outcome at the Scottish Independence Referendum. We therefore consider this matter to be closed.”
A spokesperson for Business for Scotland said: “These were malicious and sensationalist claims, made by unionist press hoping to damage the Yes movement, and we welcome the Electoral Commission’s confirmation that we acted entirely properly.
“We were never in any doubt that our actions were within the law, because we sought specific advice from the Electoral Commission on how to work with other Yes organisations during the referendum. They told us that speaking with, sharing a platform with and getting updates from other Yes groups was not only within the rules, they expected us to do so and went so far as to say they couldn’t understand how we could run our campaigns without communicating in that way.
“The original complainant, a well known unionist blogger and social media troll, and the press who led on this ridiculous story simply don’t understand the Electoral Commission’s rules about which they were writing. And the Electoral Commission has made it clear that there is no need for an investigation, despite the headlines claiming that there was.
Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, founder, CEO and registered head of the BfS referendum campaign said: “BfS has now twice been given a clean bill of health by the Electoral Commission in direct contrast to the No campaign’s business group, the CBI, which tried to avoid electoral campaign rules by not registering, but were forced to register by the Electoral Commission resulting in the resignation of as much as half of its Scottish membership.
“BfS will write to all the editors of the newspapers that ran this inaccurate story without seeking a quote from BfS and demand a right to reply.”
Full statement from the Electoral Commission: –
The Electoral Commission has today concluded its assessment of allegations that the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Business for Scotland (BFS) were ‘working together’ to promote or procure a ‘yes’ outcome at the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum in a way that breached the rules set out in the Scottish Independence Referendum Act (SIRA) 2013.
The Commission has found no evidence during its assessment that the SNP and BFS worked together in a way that broke the law. There is therefore no need to open a full investigation.
Under SIRA, if campaigners worked together under an ‘agreed plan’, spending related to this plan would count towards each campaigners spending limits. The Commission found no evidence that BFS and the SNP were operating under such a plan.
Should further information come to light, the Commission will consider this but at this stage, no further action will be taken.
Business for Scotland – The Campaigning Business Network – Join us now