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Fair Vote UK welcomes Labour party policy adoption of key digital democracy reforms

06/02/2019 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Fair Vote UK welcomes Labour party policy adoption of key digital democracy reforms”

Today Tom Watson announces Labour party proposals to rebalance the distorted digital market by establishing a new statutory regulator with powers to prevent market abuse and break up monopolies, introducing a Digital Bill of Rights and a legal Duty of Care to give more powers and protections back to consumers, particularly children and introducing Digital Democracy Guarantees – new rules to protect our democracy from subversion online.

Fair Vote UK’s white paper on digital democracy first published in April 2018 – was one of the first calls for such changes following the whistleblower allegations relating to private data taken from Facebook and misuse of private data in the EU referendum by Vote Leave. Since then, they have actively worked for legislative change that regulate social media platforms, enshrine citizens’ digital rights and fundamentally change rules to safeguard our democracy from foreign interference and disinformation online.

Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK said:

“This is a really important first step in finally starting to tackle these serious issues facing our democracy. It has been almost a year since allegations of law-breaking and data theft emerged and more than six months since the Electoral Commission found Vote Leave guilty of breaking Electoral Law. There is an active NCA investigation into Arron Banks and Leave.EU and the ICO is also investigating further allegations of data crimes. It is obvious we need independent regulation of digital platforms and serious reforms to digital spaces so they cannot undermine our democratic institutions.

Tom Watson’s announcement today is an important first step and now the government should follow the opposition’s lead and introduce legislation to set up a new statutory regulator, enshrine digital rights into law and overhaul campaigning rules to protect our elections from foreign interference and disinformation. The evidence is clear. This shouldn’t be that difficult.”

10 reasons why a public inquiry is the only way forward

25/01/2019 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “10 reasons why a public inquiry is the only way forward”

Why only an inquiry will do

We urgently need to raise £35,000 to take the case for a public inquiry into the referendum campaign to the next stage – an oral permission hearing at which our lawyers make the case for permission to proceed direct to a judge and explain why the written refusal of permission was wrong.

Overnight we’ve raised £7500 in response to our urgent appeal, which is fantastic. Thank you to everyone who’s donated so far. Over the weekend we very much hope we can raise the remaining £30,000 needed to move forward at this critical stage.

Please do consider supporting us now, even if you have in the past. We believe the stakes in our case are too important to let it stall.

It’s worth keeping in mind that there are 10 powerful reasons why only a public inquiry can get to the bottom of wrongdoing in the EU Referendum and help change the law so it will never happen again:

  1. Only an inquiry could reach comprehensive, robust, independent, evidence-based conclusions about what really happened in the EU Referendum – including involvement of individuals, companies and donors abroad and exploitation of loopholes in electoral law – to ensure the truth is known, lessons are learned for the future, and public confidence is restored.
  2. Only an inquiry would allow the UK to take the lead on investigating issues of Russian interference in the EU Referendum (avoiding the lead investigation by default being Robert Mueller’s examination of the role of Russian influence in the US elections). There is no Police, National Crime Agency or any other form of investigation happening at present that can compel Russia to publicly explain its actions. The need for accountability of this kind was why an inquiry had to be ordered by Teresa May herself into Alexander Litvinenko’s killing. That happened because Marina Litvinenko won a judicial review challenging Mrs May’s refusal to establish one.
  3. Only an inquiry would be in a position make factual findings on evidence other bodies – such as the Electoral Commission and Information Commissioner – have been unable to secure because of the limits on their jurisdiction. An inquiry would allow for a form of accountability for wrongs that are not currently crimes or regulatory offences (or which may be, but cannot practically be prosecuted).
  4. Inquiries can require witness attendance, cross-examination and the production of documents. The unwillingness of individuals – like Dominic Cummings – and organisations – like Facebook- to co-operate with investigations to date can be overcome using these special investigatory powers which other bodies lack.
  5. Only an inquiry will be able to do these things publicly. There would be clear transparency benefits. As well as having a narrow focus on commission of offences, Police, National Crime Agency and Electoral investigations are inevitably be conducted in private. By contrast, an inquiry allows core participants to engage in the Inquiry and, where permitted by the Chair, to cross-examine witnesses in public and to examine documents, and for the media to report fully on the steps taken in the investigation.
  6. The process of the inquiry and action on its recommendations for changes in the law could help address the threat to democracy and restore trust and confidence in the machinery needed to guard against it, especially because of its functional independence.
  7. That functional independence could address concerns about the role of senior public figures. For instance, a number of senior politicians, including those who sat on the Vote Leave Board and/or the Vote Leave Campaign Committee. To date, only Mr Cummings has been asked about his role and he flatly refused to be questioned about it publicly (by the DCMS Committee). Only an inquiry will be able to put questions to them and require answers.
  8. An inquiry would not be starting from scratch. It would draw on the expertise of the Electoral Commissioner and Information Commissioner  and build on the evidence gathering those bodies have undertaken so far along with that of the DCMS Committee.
  9. An inquiry would be able to draw lessons from events and prevent events from re-occurring by making recommendations, including for law reform. The recommendations already made by the Electoral Commission, Information Commissioner  and DCMS Committee could be considered and endorsed if appropriate, but the main purpose of the inquiry would be to make evidence-based recommendations based on its own investigation, not to duplicate the work of others.
  10. Inquiries are powerful things. Bringing the truth to light publicly can facilitate catharsis and assist in improving and rebuilding public confidence in the integrity of democratic processes and healing divisions (including those arising from one country having interfered in the domestic affairs and democratic processed of another country). An inquiry would allow an acknowledgement of what went wrong and ensure that the record is set straight. And if information about the commission of crimes came to light as a result of an inquiry, this could be separately dealt with by the police prosecutors – as happened after the phone hacking inquiry.

Only an inquiry will do!

Where we are: our case for a public inquiry forges ahead

22/12/2018 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Where we are: our case for a public inquiry forges ahead”

An end-of-year note from our Director, Kyle Taylor

I wanted to update you on our legal challenge to the Prime Minister’s refusal to hold a public inquiry into irregular and unlawful conduct during the EU referendum.

Our judicial review application has been submitted and a judge will soon be considering whether to grant permission for our case to go to the next stage: a full judicial review hearing where we will get to set out our case in full.

Our legal team, including leading public law barrister, Michael Fordham QC has set out a compelling case as to why it is unlawful for the Prime Minister’s not to properly consider holding a public inquiry. The Prime Minister’s approach so far has been to evade our reasonable questions and raise procedural arguments to avoid dealing with the substance of our case.  We are confident the Court will see the force in our arguments and will allow our case to proceed so that these issues, which are of such importance to us all, can be properly argued in Court.

The Government is trying to avoid public scrutiny of the EU referendum campaign. Demand an inquiry with us now.

As the Government forges on with attempting to secure a Brexit deal amongst ever increasing gridlock and vitriol in Parliament, more voices are questioning how our democratic processes can be trusted until there is a proper investigation into the implications of the cheating and overspending which so compromised the EU Referendum.

We know that an inquiry now cannot change the referendum result but we need to show that cheating is not welcome in our democracy.  We want an inquiry to properly and publicly consider what went wrong, to identify lessons for the future and to hold those responsible to account.  Without this, what is to stop others from similarly corrupting our democratic process in the future?

Please share our call for a public inquiry into the EU referendum.

Our legal arguments are sound and we have good prospects of taking our case to the next stage.  We need you to share our case with everyone you know and keep up the fight to demand justice and fairness in our democratic processes.

More to come.

Kyle

Kyle Taylor

Director, Fair Vote UK

PS – Please share our CrowdJustice page on Facebook and twitter.

Facebook moves to make UK political ads ‘transparent’

17/10/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Facebook moves to make UK political ads ‘transparent’”

From today, Facebook will be rolling out a tool that will attempt to make political adverts transparent.

Following revelations brought forward by Chris Wylie, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower and Brexit whistleblower, Shahmir Sanni, Facebook has slowly introduced measures to prevent fake news and foreign intervention into elections.

Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK, said: “Facebook didn’t really want to introduce transparency, they were well aware of these issues for quite some time. It’s a shame that the Europe has suffered three democratic processes, that we know of, to have been affected by the lack of transparency in political advertising – the Brexit referendum, the referendum on the 8th Amendment in Ireland and our recent General Election. While this is a start, self-regulation is not enough to ensure proper behaviour. This needs to be part of electoral law with adequate deterrents to guarantee these giant corporations don’t hijack our democracy again.”

Hillary Clinton joins Damian Collins and Tom Watson in calling for the public inquiry into the EU Referendum that Fair Vote UK is fighting to make a reality

09/10/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Hillary Clinton joins Damian Collins and Tom Watson in calling for the public inquiry into the EU Referendum that Fair Vote UK is fighting to make a reality”

Hillary Clinton has joined Damian Collins MP and Tom Watson MP in calling for an inquiry into misconduct during the Brexit referendum, saying that democracy is in crisis and that Conservative party is failing democracy.

Fair Vote UK are pursuing a judicial review claim for a public inquiry into Brexit because of rampant irregularities including illegal activity, Russian interference and data hacking.

Fair Vote UK and Bindmans LLP have sent a pre-action letter to the government raising concerns over the decision not to hold a full public inquiry, which has attracted support from Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson MP and chair of the DCMS committee Conservative MP Damian Collins

So far Fair Vote UK has raised over £30,000 to pursue the judicial review. Fair Vote UK are appealing for donations for the legal challenge through the Crowd Justice website. 100% of funds raised goes directly to the legal costs.

Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK, said: “Hillary Clinton has joined an ever increasing chorus of voices calling for an urgent inquiry into what on earth happened during the Brexit referendum. Clinton rightly sees the failure of our Government to conduct an investigation into what happened as a total abdication of their responsibility as protectors of and believers in democracy. ”

Shahmir Sanni, the Brexit whistleblower, said: “It is astounding that the Government has thus far refused to carry out a full public inquiry into what happened during the Brexit referendum, if it hadn’t been for the evidence I brought forward we might not even know that Vote Leave broke electoral law in the pursuit of their goals. The suggestion that an inquiry is an attempt to undermine Brexit is ridiculous and to be honest, an irrelevant accusation. It is about one thing and one thing only, democracy. I urge the people of the UK who care about protecting their rights as citizens to determine the future of their country to back Fair Vote’s judicial review.”

Fair Vote UK launches Judicial Review to challenge May’s government over refusal to hold a public inquiry into the Brexit referendum

30/09/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Fair Vote UK launches Judicial Review to challenge May’s government over refusal to hold a public inquiry into the Brexit referendum”
On Monday, Fair Vote UK and Bindmans LLP sent a letter to the government to challenge Theresa May’s decision not to hold a public inquiry into the referendum. Over the weekend, Fair Vote received endorsements from a cross-party coalition of MPs who are urging the Prime Minister to hold a public inquiry and protect our democracy. You can read these endorsements in our press release below.

Fair Vote UK and Bindmans LLP have been crowdfunding for a judicial review to challenge the government’s refusal to hold an inquiry into illegal activity during the Brexit referendum.

The government rejected earlier calls for an inquiry claiming that it was an attempt to subvert or disrupt ongoing negotiations with the EU. Fair Vote UK and Bindmans LLP called this irrational as an inquiry would have no bearing on negotiations or the outcome. “By not holding an inquiry the UK makes it a certainty that future elections will be tainted in the same way.” said Kyle Taylor, Fair Vote UK.

Fair Vote UK and Bindmans LLP have sent a pre-action letter to the government raising concerns over the decision not to hold a full public inquiry, which has attracted support from Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson MP and chair of the DCMS committee Conservative MP Damian Collins.

So far Fair Vote UK has raised over £30,000 to pursue the judicial review but needs an additional £70,000 to take the legal action to the next stage.

Fair Vote UK are appealing for donations for the legal challenge through the Crowd Justice website.

Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader, Labour Party, said: “Mueller has shown that we need to follow the money – and the lies – to get to the truth about how votes are unfairly won. Given what we know about law-breaking, Russian involvement and massive data abuse issues, it is essential that we have a full public inquiry into what happened in the referendum.  We need to know what went wrong so we can fix it and safeguard our democracy. Fair Vote’s judicial review is timely and important and I hope it will force a Government rethink.”

Shahmir Sanni, the Brexit whistleblower, said: “It is astounding that the Government has thus far refused to carry out a full public inquiry into what happened during the Brexit referendum, if it hadn’t been for the evidence I brought forward we might not even know that Vote Leave broke electoral law in the pursuit of their goals. The suggestion that an inquiry is an attempt to undermine Brexit is ridiculous and to be honest, an irrelevant accusation. It is about one thing and one thing only, democracy. I urge the people of the UK who care about protecting their rights as citizens to determine the future of their country to back Fair Vote’s judicial review.”

Alistair Carmichael MP, Liberal Democrats, said: “It’s very worrying that Theresa May has refused to conduct a full public inquiry into what we know was illegal activity during the referendum, we must protect the sanctity of our democracy and make sure this doesn’t happen again. I back Fair Vote’s call for a public inquiry and hope we finally get the answers we as citizens need.”

Catherine West MP, Labour, said: “I strongly support this call for a Public Inquiry into irregularities in the Vote Leave Campaign. We need to be sure that our democratic processes are fair and not subject to dodgy donations or authoritarian foreign governments who seek to influence and undermine domestic policy. With new technology rapidly changing election practice, it is crucial that the Electoral Commission is sufficiently robust to manage elections and provides full confidence that our democracy is not being undermined.”

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, Labour, said: “I fully support Fair Vote’s call for a public inquiry into the irregularities in the EU Referendum and their demand for a Judicial Review into the Prime Minister’s refusal to set up such an inquiry. The irregularities and outside interference should result in the Referendum being declared null and void. I will be raising this in the House of Lords on 22nd. October.”

Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK, said: “The UK urgently needs its own Mueller investigation. The Government’s decision not to hold a full public inquiry into the Brexit referendum is unlawful and we are challenging it. We know that Vote Leave cheated and overspent by a considerable amount. Not to mention opaque donors, suspicions of Russian interference and data companies using questionable tactics. All this has led to such significant public concern that only a Public Inquiry headed by a judge with formal powers to compel witnesses can find out what truly happened.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

Fair Vote UK  was set up to tackle the issue of data misuse, voter manipulation and lack of transparency in elections head-on. We are committed to ensuring the institutions that protect our democratic processes are fit for purpose in a digital age.

Fair Vote UK took the decision to publish the whistleblower evidence for everyone to see. The evidence we have so far can be seen on our website, because the public deserve to know the truth about what’s happening in our democracy.

Electoral Commission may have made a mistake but Vote Leave still broke the law

14/09/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Electoral Commission may have made a mistake but Vote Leave still broke the law”

The High Court has ruled that the Electoral Commission (EC) misunderstood the law regarding donations. Vote Leave in light of this ruling now claim they only gave the donation because the EC said it was permissible in an email correspondence, wilfully  ignoring the clear stipulation in the same email that coordination would make any donation unlawful. Coordination is exactly what the EC found Vote Leave and BeLeave guilty of.

Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK, said “We’ve said from the very beginning of this whole sorry affair that the Electoral Commission needs more powers and deep reform and we welcome Matthew Elliott’s consensus on this matter.

The key thing to remember here is that this ruling by the High Court does not in any way invalidate the ruling the EC reached, the EC did not at any point advise Vote Leave that they could break Common Plan Expenditure rules, meaning Vote Leave still broke the law. This crucial fact seems to be missing in the reactions to the High Court ruling.

The EC clearly states on their website following their investigation that they found overwhelming evidence of a common plan. In the emails from the EC that Matthew Elliott has published on Brexit Central it is clear that any donation would be considered unlawful if made under a common plan.

The EC’s misleading advice around spending laws indicates we must have comprehensive reform to make our laws clearer and more democratic but this ruling does not change the simple fact that Vote Leave and BeLeave engaged in illegal campaign coordination. As much as Matthew Elliott tries to obfuscate the truth, we cannot ignore that Vote Leave and BeLeave are responsible for breaking the law.

The Electoral Commission is the most important election regulator in this country. We must ensure that it is operating properly and that our laws reflect the realities of modern campaigning. The fact that yet more is coming to light regarding errors made in the Brexit referendum should give decision-makers pause for thought.

Matthew Elliott and other Brexiteers are using this ruling to once again deny responsibility for their own crimes. They have spent the past few months denigrating one of the fundamental institutions of our democracy, the Electoral Commission and are now being purposefully deceptive to cast even more doubt on our democratic process.

While Vote Leave will claim they were given misleading advice and therefore cannot be held accountable, we mustn’t forget that ignorance of the law is not and has never been a get out jail free card.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/journalist/electoral-commission-media-centre/news-releases-donations/vote-leave-fined-and-referred-to-the-police-for-breaking-electoral-law

Fair Vote UK’s proposed Electoral Commission reforms: https://fairvote.uk/home/electoral-reform/

Fair Vote UK launch class-action suit against Facebook

30/07/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Fair Vote UK launch class-action suit against Facebook”

Fair Vote UK launch class-action suit against Facebook with Bindmans LLP in wake of DCMS committee’s interim report on “fake news.”

In early July the ICO reported that Facebook had violated the Data Protection Act. Today, in the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee’s interim report on disinformation and “fake news” – leaked by Dominic Cummings of Vote Leave – the chair Damian Collins MP made it clear that Facebook had made it incredibly easy for user data to be harvested without their consent. It is clear something must be done.

In an effort to seek remedy for those whose personal and private information was taken without their consent, Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK and victim of these activities, is – with Bindmans LLP – preparing a class-action lawsuit against Facebook.

Tamsin Allen of Bindmans LLP, said ‘We agree with Damian Collins MP that “data crimes are real crimes, with real victims”.  Accordingly, this week, we are taking the first formal steps in proceedings against Facebook for breaches on a vast scale of the agreement between the company and its users, and breaches of UK personal data rules.  Whilst Facebook has now informed those affected, the lack of protection provided by the company over the victim’s data has become woefully apparent during the Committee’s investigation’.

Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK and one of the Claimants in the Facebook claim said ‘It is now abundantly clear the status quo with regard to how we hold internet giants to account does not work. The solution is urgent reform to properly regulate and oversee companies like Facebook. Because the breaches took place before the GDPR came into effect, the fines are simply not great enough to deter this behaviour. As such, we are hoping as many of the nearly 1.1 million people who had their data used without their consent will join our claim to hit Facebook where it counts – their bottom line.”

Any individual whose data was taken without their consent could be eligible to join the claim. Possible victims can visit Fair Vote UK’s site at https://our.fairvote.uk/page/s/FB-case and check whether their data was taken then submit their details to join. There are an estimated 1.1 million people in the UK who could be eligible.

 

ENDS

Now’s the time for a public inquiry into Brexit cheating

23/07/2018 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Now’s the time for a public inquiry into Brexit cheating”

This weekend, we launched our crowdfunder to call for a full public inquiry into the EU referendum and the response has been overwhelming.

As you know, this case matters because our democracy is being attacked and we can’t allow these cheaters and law-breakers to get away with it.

With your support we’ve made good progress towards our goal of £50,000. But we still have a way to go.

 

Will you help give us a big push to spread the word?

 

If you haven’t donated yet, please do so here. Every little bit helps.

If you have donated please can you share on social media or emails to your friends and family. Here is the link: https:/www.crowdjustice.com/ case/eu-referendum-result/

Electoral Commission finds Vote Leave broke the law, Fair Vote UK calls for immediate action.

17/07/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Electoral Commission finds Vote Leave broke the law, Fair Vote UK calls for immediate action.”

In light of the Electoral Commission’s report on Vote Leave, BeLeave and Veterans for Britain, confirming Shahmir Sanni’s whistleblower evidence of overspend and illegal campaign coordination, it is more clear than ever that the EU referendum was won by cheating and law-breaking. We must have a fair vote and Parliament must act now to ensure our future elections are not marred by cheating and corruption.

Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK said: “The Electoral Commission has uncovered far more law-breaking than even we had believed occurred. The Government needs to take urgent action to deal with the fact the referendum is now illegitimate. We need to wake up and start fighting for our democracy.

These problems will not solve themselves. Until there are adequate deterrents against cheating, bad actors will continue to take advantage of our democracy and break the law. This is unacceptable. Elections and referenda have serious consequences and cheating in these campaigns must be punished.

When the Electoral Commission suspects wrongdoing in elections, these allegations should be promptly and thoroughly investigated by the police. The cap on fines should be lifted. Currently, fines given by the Electoral Commission are small enough that they are just the cost of doing business. We must build a system that holds people accountable for their actions.

Parliament must act immediately to implement common sense electoral reforms. The Electoral Commission found that Vote Leave, BeLeave, and Veterans for Britain misreported their campaign spending. Campaigns should be reporting their spending online, as MPs do with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. In referenda, the designated campaign should no longer be allowed to donate money to other groups. Perhaps most importantly, we should regulate paid political digital advertising in the election period with a Digital Bill of Rights for Democracy.”

We must have laws which reflect our current realities. The Electoral Commission’s report makes clear that our current system is not fit to purpose. With such monumental decisions such as Brexit at stake, we cannot stand by and allow our democratic processes to be denigrated and our votes cheated. Parliament must act and we must have fair votes for all.”