Statement from Professor Watt Regarding Professional Impartiality

 

I have been informed that during the process of seeking funding to procure independent Counsel opinion, certain members of the public have raised questions as to why this case has not also lodged evidence against the Remain campaign – Stronger In.

As (I’m told) something of a recognised person in the field of electoral law, albeit now semi-retired, I would like to clarify the difference between my personal and professional position, and the circumstances of my involvement with this action.

On a personal level, let me first be clear that yes, I do believe – strongly in fact – that the UK would be better off remaining within the European Union.  And yes, that is one of the reasons that I have chosen to invest time into this action.

On a professional and academic level, however, that fact is entirely irrelevant, as I have previously been at pains to clarify.  It has no bearing whatsoever as to whether I would offer assistance to appropriately qualified parties or actions if I can, even (perhaps especially) if those parties share a diametrically opposite political viewpoint from my own, providing that their concern was either upholding or improving our law.

Our law is our law.  It exists for a purpose, in this case to safeguard the quality and integrity of our democratic process.  That’s my overriding concern.  I will go further – if we cannot hold blatantly dishonest political campaigns to account, then in my view our political system is worthless. I have spent a significant proportion of my adult life studying the law, and trying to improve it, and therefore I hope you will understand that any idea that the happenstance of my own political views might in some fashion fetter my assistance in a professional capacity I find somewhat of an anathema.

Now to clarify the circumstances of this particular action..

  • The 2016 EU referendum was – and I agree- pretty much universally considered to have been dreadfully conducted by all of the campaigns.
  • Our concern, however, was whether any misconduct crossed the line into unlawfulness.
  • We looked at many of the common complaints about both Leave and Remain for potential wrongdoing versus the Electoral Law
  • We discounted evidence that didn’t meet our evidential tests, which you can read more about on our FAQ post. There was one Remain leaflet that did provide more cause for consideration, but in our view the arguments simply weren’t strong enough to support a prosecution case.  We also discounted many other claims against the Leave campaigns using the same criteria.
  • Thanks to the CrowdJustice backers, we are now able to seek a fully independent Counsel opinion as to the potential merits of the six grounds we have prepared, before deciding whether to proceed with further action.
  • The fact that we think there may be grounds for prosecution of the Leave campaigns in no way precludes any other party from seeking to bring another case, but similarly we believe they must bear responsibility to any backers of that case to ensure it has chance of success and to spend their money wisely.
  • Indeed, I would be very happy to see successful prosecution of any individual if found to have deliberately set out to mislead voters in an election or referendum.

I would therefore like to clarify my willingness, once again, to offer professional (and unpaid) assistance to any such action, subject to certain conditions which are designed purely to eliminate time-wasting:

  • Parties must have fully read and researched the information made available on this site, and provide assurance that they are prepared to be personally named in an action against ‘Remain Liars’ (as opposed to ‘Leave Liars’)
  • Parties must have prepared fully-evidenced draft grounds pertaining to “Undue Influence”.  This must be supported and submitted to me by at least one person who has a professional legal certification.  Email: remaincase@restoringintegrity.uk
  • I will then reply, suggesting a suitable Counsel who may be prepared to undertake a professional, paid opinion on the merits of your case.
  • On receipt of a letter from your Counsel (you may choose someone else) confirming that they have been instructed, I will send that Counsel our same legal skeleton arguments relating to s115(2)(b), on the express condition that this information be treated as confidential until our own action has been submitted in the courts.

Thanks,

Prof bob Watt.

CrowdJustice Campaign Update – 15th April – FUNDED!

At 3.39pm on Saturday 15th April, just over a week after launching, our CrowdJustice campaign successfully completed the £9,900 fundraising sought to procure a fully independent Counsel opinion on the merits of our case.

We have now formally instructed chambers.  If the Counsel opinion is supportive, then it will confirm we should proceed with further fundraising required to bring a private prosecution action (the DPP having previously decided not to act).

We would like to offer humble thanks to the 351 backers who form the vanguard of this action, which is being brought in the public interest of safeguarding UK democracy.

The Restoring Integrity Team.

CrowdJustice Campaign Update – 14th April

This morning marks one week since we launched our CrowdJustice case, seeking £9,900 to procure the fully independent QC opinion from leading chambers.

Of course it’s not just an “opinion” we are procuring, it is a venerable and learned reading of the law by leading chambers, which will take at least a few weeks.  Because of the public interest, they have offered to do this for a fraction of their normal commercial rates and on a capped fees basis, of no more than £7,500+VAT.  The rest covers a small fee to the CrowdJustice website.

If we didn’t procure it (and be prepared to accept the answer may not be what we want to hear) then it wouldn’t really be independent, and equally it wouldn’t really carry any sway in getting key legal and constitutional law commentators publicly on side.

We have been overwhelmed by the public response.  Without the aid of any press article (this isn’t newsworthy just yet), just through word of mouth and social media, at the time of writing we have attracted over £6,000 in small donations from individuals and a couple of small businesses.

We would like to thank all of the case backers for their generosity, and for supporting this action to fight for the future of UK democracy.

As bob rather succinctly put it yesterday, “if we cannot hold these dishonest people to account, then our political system is worthless”.