An Oxford Union election tribunal has found two candidates in the society’s elections guilty of electoral malpractice. The ‘Rise’ slate’s candidates for Secretary; Lee Chin Wee, and its intended candidate for Librarian; Ayman D’Souza, who had seemingly by accident nominated for Treasurer, were found guilty of hindering the duties of the Returning Officer and communicating “an unscrutinised factual claim which forms part of a factual statement” respectively.
Lee has been disqualified from the election, and after his votes were disqualified, Celeste McGinley was elected with 415 first preferences to Hugh Bellamy’s 342. In addition, Lee’s membership will be suspended for two terms and he will not be permitted to hold any office for six. D’Souza, who came last in his election after publicly endorsing fellow ‘RISE’ candidate Beatrice Barr, will be banned from standing for election for the next three terms.
Lee pled guilty to his charges, admitting to forging a photograph purporting to be D’Souza’s original nomination showing him to have nominated for Librarian, contrary to the form in the possession of the Returning Officer. His fellow defendant in the case, president-elect Brendan McGrath, was not deemed to have a case to answer by the tribunal. McGrath had previously faced an unsuccessful allegation of electoral malpractice after his election as Librarian in Trinity 2018. He declined to give comment to the Oxford Student.
The second case related to a Facebook post in which he had publicly claimed his nomination form had been replaced with a forged one. The tribunal found the candidate guilty as they believed this post to be written for electoral purposes, with all factual claims made by candidates for such purposes requiring scrutiny by a panel of electoral officials, which had not taken place for the allegation of forgery.
The complaints had been brought by Samuel Burns, a supporter of the ‘Unlock the Union’ slate, and Daniil Ukhorskiy, the former Union’s Director of Press, respectively.
Burns said: “The behaviour of these two candidates was deeply disappointing. The term ‘toxic politics’ has been bandied around a lot recently, but I hope that with these findings candidates will be far more careful in future with what they say and do in order to get elected.”
The Oxford Union, Ukhorskiy, and the two defendants were all contacted for comment.
Image: RISE Facebook