Tag Archives: expenses

Why is the Electoral Commission trying to make life difficult for journalists?

That’s the question that David Higgerson is asking after casting his eye over the results of various investigations into electoral expenses, and a Freedom of Information response from the Electoral Commission revealing “that it told councils there was ‘no provision in law’ for people to take notes from the expenses

“Several authorities had sought information on what to do if reporters asked to look at the documents, and the response from the Commission’s North West team was:

In the absence of any definitive legislation on this point, the prudent option is to inform the paper that ‘inspect’ does not extend to the taking of notes. To that end, if the paper wishes to look at the returns in more detail at a later date, (for what ever purpose) they should purchase a copies.

Higgerson points out that “while there is nothing in law which says people can take notes, there’s nothing in the law which says people can’t – so why make the distinction?”

More on David Higgerson’s blog here.

You can join one of the various investigations into election expenses here. If you want to start your own there’s plenty of advice on this blog – post a comment if you want help.

Local MP’s expenses in Cardiff, and National Newspaper Crowdsourcing…

The Guardian are continuing  with the nation-wide enquiries  into MP?s elections expenses, this time focusing their efforts locally on Cardiff but mirroring the moves made by Helpmeinvestigate.

The article explains the precise but scarcely known figures behind the expenses claims for the short and long campaign respectively. The run-up to the elections, or the short-campaign, is where spending is at its most frantic and is the key point of interest for journalists.

This seems appropriate for Cardiff, as when the figures came in, successful candidate for Cardiff North Jonathan Evans had spent ?9,968 of his ?10,412 short campaign budget.

Upon having requested all of the receipts from the short campaign, just as Helpmeinvestigate members had done, it was found that there were various receipts missing or unaccounted for and dubious amounts were spent on DIY and a personal website.

The whole of the campaign was conducted and expenditure recorded in accordance with the laws in place, and, as per yet, there are no conclusions being drawn as the expenses are still being looked over by the electoral commission.

It?s good to see them leave the data open to the public and allow for crowd sourced interpretation and investigation, similar to the way in which they handled the new Birmingham council website and it?s questionable costings.

There may be other findings when the electoral commission complete their reviews of MP?s expenses nationwide, and other stories may be unveiled as they near completion.