Friday, 6 February 2009

Glenrothes stinks.

Tricia Marwick, MSP for Central Fife
Tricia Marwick, MSP for Central Fife
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Published Date: 04 February 2009
AN INQUIRY has been launched after it was revealed court staff in Kirkcaldy may have shredded the only record of who voted in a crucial Westminster by-election.
The marked electoral register - the document on which officials cross off names of voters as they place their ballots - from last year's Glenrothes by-election has gone missing from Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.

The SNP requested the documents in November, but were informed on Friday that they had gone astray.

Now the Scottish Court Service is instigating an external investigation into the circumstances of the loss.

Tricia Marwick, MSP for Central Fife said: "The marked registers are an essential element of any election campaign.

They allow a check of who voted – but not how they voted – to confirm that the election was conducted properly.

''Without these records there is no evidence of either a fair or unfair election.

''This undermines the confidence of everyone who took part."

She added: "It is almost beyond belief that a by-election which attracted media coverage throughout the UK, which delivered such a surprise result and had a much higher turnout than anticipated now has no records to show who actually voted.

"There now needs to be the fullest independent inquiry.

''The registers must have gone missing almost immediately after they were delivered to the Sheriff Clerk's Office because we first asked for copies on November 19.

''I also want to know why we were not told that they had gone missing when we first started to make inquiries about examining them."

Under current electoral law the marked register and voting papers are kept by the Sheriff Clerk for a year following an election.

These can be requested for analysis by candidates and their campaigners.
Eleanor Emberson, Chief Executive of the Scottish Court Service said: "It is important for all concerned to establish what happened to the marked register. We know that we still hold other documentation relating to the Glenrothes by-election but that this register is missing.

"I deeply regret and apologise for this loss and am arranging for the matter to be fully and independently investigated."

Labour welcomed the inquiry, but called Tricia Marwick's comments "crazy" and described them as "dirty tricks and sour grapes rolled into one"

A spokesman said: "Lindsay Roy won because of the incompetence of the SNP locally and nationally. The ballot papers were counted fair and square in front of the eyes of the world.

"Ms Marwick's comments are an insult to the intelligence of Fifers. She simply cannot accept that they decided to vote for Labour, not her party."

Labour beat the SNP in last year's vote, sending former Kirkcaldy High School headteacher Mr Roy to the House of Commons.

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