David Townsend’s campaign for OUSU Presidency has come under further scrutiny this week after a fine his election slate received was doubled.
Last week, Team Townsend was fined five per cent of its election expenditure after emailing a survey to MCR Presidents which they claimed was administered by The Oxford Student.
The survey said respondents would enter a prize draw for a bottle of wine, which also broke OUSU rules.
Townsend accepted the judgement, but appealed the amount fined. However, when the Returning Officer Jonathan Edwards referred it to a junior tribunal, the fine was doubled to 10 per cent.
In the appeal, Townsend claimed: “The ruling in both cases hinged on ‘constructive knowledge’ and the view that we ‘ought’ to have been aware of the truth.”
He added: “The mistaken accreditation to the OxStu in no way benefited the Team Townsend campaign, nor could it in any possible context or set of circumstances arising from the survey.”
The tribunal judged: “[I]t was incumbent on Team Townsend to clarify the ownership and status of the survey and the methods of its circulation. Furthermore, Team Townsend should have established whether participation in the survey was in compliance with the Standing Orders before it was circulated. This was not done.”
In doubling the fine, the panel said it was “more proportionate given the offence summarized above”.
Edwards said: “The decision was taken by Junior Tribunal because the defendant felt that the penalty was too harsh, as they felt other mitigating factors should have been taken into account. All parties to complaints have the right to appeal without restriction.
“No particular reason was given for doubling the fine, and there was no indication of the factors taken into account. However, Team Townsend decided not to appeal the Junior Tribunal’s decision and so it will stand.”