Photo: Michael Green, The society committee that was elected at the AGM in question
Photo: Michael Green, the society committee that was elected at the AGM in question

An investigation conducted by the Students Association has found that allegations of “election fraud” against the St Andrews Conservative and Unionist Society committee, first revealed in a report by The Saint earlier this year, were in fact true.

The investigation, conducted mainly by last year’s Director of Student Development and Activities, Kyle Blain, confirmed many of the allegations made against the committee regarding the society’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Speaking to the The Saint, the Students Association’s Societies Officer Pia Szabo said, “There were some accusations of election fraud and it ended up being true. So, in short, people were… stacking candidates, having people vote for candidates – and those people hadn’t been members [of the society].”

Going on, Ms Szabo said, “there was evidence of people being invited to the [AGM] who were not paid members and weren’t even being charged membership fees so obviously that was not OK.” Ms Szabo also confirmed that the society had been told to re-hold the AGM, this time under closer scrutiny from the Students’ Association.

“We’ll obviously attend the election. We’ll send our reps there, we might just keep a little bit of a closer eye on them in coming years,” she said.

Earlier this year, a member of the Conservative Society committee told The Saint that the committee had been “cleared of all wrong doing.”  Ms Szabo also confirmed that this was “not correct.”

Going to say that while the election on the day itself may have been conducted fairly, Ms Szabo said that the main problems were in regards to how it certain members of the Society determined who could vote in the AGM.

“It wasn’t so much a problem of the election itself, the election itself may have been completely fine. It was the fact that were people who were not paid members at the time of notice, who were voting in it, and also being told ‘hey you can vote for free’ – it was that hard proof that was the issue there.”

“The whole election process was definitely done incorrectly,” said Ms Szabo.

Going on, Ms Szabo said, “Once we were able to look into it further, real hard evidence came out.”

Elaborating further, Ms Szabo described how the Association found, “blatant evidence of people telling non-members to vote.”

Following the confirmation of the allegations, Ms Szabo also described steps the committee have taken to prevent fraud in the future, “We have actually said to committees now they must keep track of their members and at any date and time, if we request a member list, they must be able to present it to us.”

Ms Szabo also praised the members of the Society who came forward with the allegations in the first place, saying: “It was the members of the society who said ‘obviously something’s not right here’ which is great because as Societies Committee we’re not actually a governing body, we’re not above societies in any way we’re kind of a resource for them so it was good that the members were the ones who were able to seek out help. And we were then able to help them.”

Marcus Buist, the losing candidate for president in the AGM, spoke to The Saint about the results of the investigation, “I am deeply saddened by the unfortunate events of last year. It is some relief to be vindicated by the Union, and that our claims that the election had been unpleasant and corrupted have been confirmed.

“The whole election process was definitely done incorrectly,” said Ms Szabo.

“I will be standing [in the new AGM], and hope that it will be possible for all those who want to vote to be able still to get membership.

“I think we shall look at confirming the old and more democratic constitution, and looking for a new style of committee. Above all we are looking to heal the ghastly ruptures that have so damaged the society.”

In a statement to The Saint, the Executive Committee of the Conservative Society said, “The correspondence from The Saint was the first the Society had heard of the existence of any such investigation or its conclusions.

“The Association has not been contacted by the Union regarding this matter since May.

“We were greatly surprised that  the Students’ Association had seen fit to inform a student newspaper of its decision without making any contact with the society in question.

“We have since contacted Union who have subsequently confirmed that they had come to this decision and they have also apologised for this miscommunication.

“While we feel it is unjustified, we respect their right to request that an affiliated society hold a new AGM.

“We shall set a date for the new AGM in due course and will work closely with the Students’ Association to ensure that the process is transparent.”

The Scottish Conservatives declined to comment.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Given that Buist has been dragged before a university discipline hearing for singing “there were ten Palestinians sitting on a wall and if one Israeli missile should happen to fall…” As well as branding members of the Conservative association “Fenians” and making some feel unwelcome for being “lower middle class” or wearing “Polyester Blazers” I feel sorry that this paper has given voice to his personal hate campaign. It is worth noting that he suggested his first act as president would be to resurrect the dead tradition of effigy burning, with an effigy of Mhairi Black holding a banner saying, “all the blacks must burn.”

  2. I feel the threat of chemical castration is perhaps slightly extreme for an article highlighting the clear wrongdoing of individuals and holding them publicly accountable. My suggestion would be to take 5, have a cup of tea, build a bridge, and get the f**k over it.

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