Daily Archives: 22 March 2009

Jury Team: a question of transparency

I’m not obsessed with Jury Team, really I’m not. It’s just that they keep doing these … things … to provoke me.

At the time of writing, the party which claims to be more representative than the other parties on the basis that 100% of the electorate selects their candidates doesn’t have a single candidate with more than 40 votes. The party that claims to be seeking to do in the UK what Obama did in the US doesn’t seem to even have the basics right. And for a party which claims to represent “real transparency,” they seem to be anything but.

I’ve already pointed out how the laws regarding “regulated donees” appear to apply to Jury Team prospective candidates, yet when I asked them whether they are working on this basis or not, I got an odd couple of emails from “Morus of London,” who on prodding admitted his real name was “Greg” (no last name – apparently he is quite well known in politicalbetting.com circles), who explained that it was complicated and would be far quicker to talk rather than explain it all in an email. I have to admit that I’ve taken a few days to reply to his second email, but I have now done so and asked him simply to answer the following two questions:

1) Do the PPERA rules on “regulated donees” cover your prospective candidate in your view (I note that the law explicitly applies to “members” and you include “membership” as part of your £10 administration fee)? YES / NO
2) Are you appraising your prospective candidates of what you understand the legal situation to be? YES / NO

But this isn’t the only example of Jury Team being less than transparent. For all their attacks on sleaze, they explicitly state they welcome anonymous donations of £199 or less on their website. To quote:

To donate under £200 you don’t need to provide your details but we would love to know who you are so we can thank you. Please fill in your details below if you wish, or if you would prefer to remain anonymous please just click on the PayPal link and you will be taken through the form.

This is technically legal (the PPERA has a “de minimus” level under which donations are not regulated), although neither Labour, the Conservatives nor the Lib Dems accept anonymous small donations via their respective websites. There is also a question here about enforcement; what is to stop someone from making 100 £199 seperate donations to Jury Team? And finally, there is a question of honesty. If they are accepting payments via PayPal, then they will know your email address so it ain’t anonymous. This of course means that technically they could see if someone were to make multiple donations via the same PayPal account. So, either they are going to enforce the law and break their promise to respect anonymity, or they will respect anonymity and potentiall break the law. Once again, they are failing to make their position clear.

I will give them one thing though. I genuinely welcome their pledge not to accept donations of more than £50,000. As I have argued previously, Nick Clegg should have got the party to practice what it preaches ages ago. With the prospect of a legal cap now disappearing over the horizon, it is time to claim the moral high ground.

UPDATE: Morus/Greg Callus has now got back to me and confirmed “yes” and “yes” to my above questions. Progress at last, but it shouldn’t have taken so many email exchanges.