Analysis comment

BBC: We’ll send you a comment on Kuenssberg breaking electoral law if we decide we feel like it

Astonishing dismissiveness by BBC press office

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg has disregarded electoral law by discussing what she hears from sources about which party they believe postal votes have favoured in the general election:

Kuenssberg’s sources are likely to be as wrong as they were on Monday, but as an LBC producer pointed out in her social media feed, the reason it is illegal to discuss postal votes before the polls have closed for all types of ballot is that such discussions may affect votes still to be cast:

Postal voters are typically older, so would a stronger showing for the Tories would not be surprising – but basically Kuenssberg has no idea whether the postal votes are worse than usual.

She is simply taking the word of sources – as she did on Monday when she repeated a Tory lie, without any fact-checking, that a Labour activist had punched a Conservative aide.

But even wrongly implying something about the postal vote count might, for example, deter voters from going out to cast their vote tomorrow – or affect how they vote.

The Electoral Commission last week published a thread explaining electoral law on information – and made it clear that what Ms Kuenssberg (and her sources if they exist) did is likely to be a criminal offence:

The BBC’s own guidance on the issue is even more emphatic:

It is an offence against the Representation of the People Act – one that is punishable with a prison sentence of up to six months:

Yet Ms Kuenssberg blithely did so.

But Ms Kuenssberg is not the only one blithe and flippant about the law and the effect a breach might have on the UK’s democracy and the outcome of the election.

The SKWAWKBOX called the BBC News press office to ask whether any action would be taken or the BBC had any comment to make. When no response had been provided after several hours, the SKWAWKBOX called again.

And was told:

You’re on the list. If we decide we’re putting out anything about it, you’ll be told then.

When asked whether the BBC would commit to commenting or provide a timescale for a response, the answer was:

No, you’ll just have to wait.

A couple of hours after Laura Kuenssberg’s comment that the law bans to prevent influence on the result of the UK general election, a BBC reporter told BBC News viewers that Boris Johnson ‘so deserves’ to win the election.

The BBC’s conduct in this election has shown it to be utterly corrupt, from its lies to get Jeremy Corbyn to face its toughest interviewer when Boris Johnson had not committed to doing the same, to its backing down and allowing Johnson an easy interview instead, to its editorial decisions to ignore massively important events in the election that would have been adverse to the Tories and broadcast Tory-friendly fluff instead.

Change is not just needed. It is essential, before our democracy collapses completely.

Vote Labour.

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  1. I actually think stealing an election makes violent insurrection entirely justified.
    If that happens we might end up erecting a Kuenssberg-shaped pissoir to the hatchet-faced c**t.

    1. The idea of suborning hundreds of returning officers is a conspiracy theory too far even in the age of antisocial media!

      1. I made no such assumption or connection. I referred to Kuenssberg’s fake news in particular but my comment was intended to encompass the whole of the MSM.
        I’ve lobbied here and elsewhere for Labour to announce – today – future ex post facto legislation to jail the fuckers as a manifesto commitment.
        Today Adam Price, the Plaid Cymru leader, lobbied to make politicians criminally liable for deliberately misleading the public – I approve but that will be ineffective unless journalists, editors and owners are equally liable.
        Democracy is more important than parliament, MP’s, TV presenters or hack journalists.
        When they complain about restricting the freedom of the Press just explain that it’s only the freedom intentionally to mislead that’s being restricted.

      2. Not to upset you in any way,but couldn’t a g.p.s.tracking device be used on the election boxes.Get real this lot have attempted to rig an election.

      3. Joseph, there are a couple of ways GPS can be blocked. Just putting it inside a larger shielded box would work – tracker devices mostly rely on not being found and a box doesn’t have any hiding places.
        The people who’d have access would know exactly where they were located and would have more technical options anyway, sorry.
        And it’s more than just an attempt – they’ve rigged every election there’s ever been if you think about it 🙂

  2. Postal votes packs are opened by the returning officer in order to verify the authenticity of the elector. The ballot paper in the pack is placed in a sealed box which is only opened after the polls have closed when the postal ballots are then counted with all the other ballots.
    Unless someone has counted the ballots prior to placing them in the sealed box and this has been done in a significant number of constituencies and then the figures have been revealed Kuenssberg is lying.
    Anyone who gained an impression of how the ballots had been cast by seeing a few ballot papers and then made their opinion known before the close of the poll would be breaking the law
    So either Kuenssberg is potentially a liar or she has broken the law .

  3. This is strange altogether and I think fake news not election breach.

    I was in our town hall this morning to talk to the returning officer and view the postal vote process.

    What was made clear to us was that until polls closed tomorrow the ballot papers are not counted and sorted. They are only opened and verified and put in a ballot box tomorrow evening to be mixed with all other votes and counted then. Nobody views the front of the ballot paper to see how the vote was cast and so cannot know the balance of votes in the postal batch, not the election staff or the candidates and their agents.

    Kuenssberg should know this, she was either knowingly passing on false information or guilty of not knowing the basics of how elections are run: a real problem for someone with her job..

    1. How can this not be a breach of election rules, when the sole benefit/effect of consciously broadcasting that information would be to influence voting that had not yet commenced?

    2. I agree that it’s Fake News. Just ask “Did those who made the claim see all of the postal ballots that were cast or were they just lucky enough to glance a representative sample of them?
      Did the postal ballots in question concern just one constituency all constituencies or a representative sample of constituencies? I would suggest that at best a couple of people have glanced a few ballots in a couple of unnamed constituencies which could for all we know have been solid Tory seats.
      Apart from the illegality of revealing such information before the close of the polls it’s a bullshit story that Kuenssberg had reported as hard fact.

  4. Calm down. It’s kite flying that the naive schoolgirl hasn’t sussed in her knicker-wetting anxiety to appear ‘in the know’.

    As said previously, her offence is gullibility and simply not being very good – not an illegal act.

    1. RH, the law is there to prevent preliminary results being revealed and influencing the final result, as we all know.
      If ‘revealing’ an invented preliminary result were not an illegal act, the law would be completely toothless and pointless. Everybody would be doing it.
      I have no intimate knowledge of the legislation but logic suggests you’re mistaken. I feel certain that inventing a result, even if only to pretend insider knowledge, is an illegal act.
      For my money it’s worse than revealing something ‘inadvertently’ by carrying documents face out that are readable with a telephoto lens.

      1. ” the law is there …”

        David – that was my main point : she hasn’t actually broken any law, whatever her motivation (and you’re right that my view of her focuses more on incompetence and lack of awareness than yours) – it doesn’t cover unattributed tittle-tattle.

    2. No. These “mistakes” are happening daily. She is Head Girl in the department. She’s must accept responsibility and accountability for her actions. It’s getting ridiculous now.

  5. Day one of the Labour Govt ,
    Items as follows
    1.Reform of the BBC
    2.Introduction of Leveson 2 recommendations


  6. This is what antidemocratic corruption looks like. That it is completed by a state-financed broadcaster puts the BBC in the same category as authoritarian dictatorships’ indoctrinator news agencies.

    The only people who will have seen the postal votes are the people tasked by each returning officer to open them and check the authenticity of the returns. The Electoral Commission advises that no effort should be taken to count the postal votes until after the polling stations close and all votes are collated and counted.

    Whether Laura Kuenssberg knowingly broke the law is unimportant. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. That she claims the PVs favour or disfavour any party is both wrong and probably illegal.

    This cannot be the end of Kuenssberg’s gaffe.

    1. Absolutely qwertboi, this isn’t someone making some frivolous joke in the pub about having previewed the election result, this is the senior BBC political editor and the position carries a responsibility to the truth – one that she constantly shirks.
      This needs to be the end of her career.
      If the Tories ennoble her, as they very well might given their brazen disregard for propriety, I hope that’ll bring about the end of the house of lords and the whole filthy pile of stinking corruption.

  7. RH, the BBC seems arrogantly confident that it has no case to answer.
    I think you might both be mistaken.
    The consequence of the law being as you believe would seem to be that the BBC could falsely announce that the Conservatives had already won the election on postal votes alone – on the day before polling – and get away with it.
    What Kuenssberg did was only different to that scenario in degree, not in principle I think.
    We need Duncan Shipley Dalton to settle this 🙂
    Haven’t seen him post here in ages.

    1. You are absolutely right David. Either LK spoke the truth in which case electoral law has been broken and legal action MUST ensue; or she fibbed, in which case her credentials as a journalist are non-existent.

      Kuenssberg and the improper bureaucrats/tory politicians either broke the law or they didn’t. If the law was not broken, Keunssberg lied and was responsible for ‘false news’. If electoral law was broken, a BBC journalist should be disgusted by this, or at least inclined to disclose the illegalitty.

      Nothing else if possible.

  8. Most of the sensible and reasonable comments confirm for me why a much respected arm of the state must go.Basically its just too dangerous a weapon of the establishment and the Tory party to be allowed to be used against the opposition..and I mean any party.!All state broadcasting must go.Do we never learn from history.Right wing..Left wing..communists..or dictators a state broadcasting propaganda machine is just too,too dangerous to the health of a democacy..

  9. Electoral Commission is a useless, toothless tiger. “May be” an offence. It either is, or it isn’t. If it isn’t, it should be, and if it IS, then Kuenssberg must be investigated and charged.

    1. ye, but sadly an offence is only an offence once the CPS decides it MIGHT BE and authorises action, and then a court confirms it is. This is the bureaucratic nature of justice.

      Long may it be so.

  10. It is surely now beyond any eligible and credible doubt that the BBC is in no way, shape, or form “impartial”.

  11. R H Puzzled why you should wish to dumb down the BBC Laura kuenssberg intervention in a Election.You know she is responsible and the BBC.for many attacks and the spreading of lies.If you are trying to influence the reporting of the BBC to the electoral commission then it looks like you are too late.Somtimes I wonder about your agenda.and whether you are just benign.or something more.

    1. My comments are based in looking at the reality and the legal issues rather than just expressing righteous ire. It is an opinion – of which there are varieties other than your own from a Labour perspective.

      Your last comment answers your own question. I”m afraid that your paranoid/manichean slip is showing.

      In my opinion, the real enemy loves such hysteria. It gives cover and allows the sidelining of the underlying issues whilst Kuenssberg gets a pasting.

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