CIPR told to appoint independent election chief after winner of disrupted presidential vote announced

The panel appointed to review the CIPR's presidential election - which was won by Liquid's Jason MacKenzie after the only other candidate was disqualified - has recommended that the organisation's CEO is not given the role of mediating election disputes in future.

The CIPR: Has its new president-elect, but may tweak its election rules in the future (Credit: FutUndBeidl via Flickr)
The CIPR: Has its new president-elect, but may tweak its election rules in the future (Credit: FutUndBeidl via Flickr)

The CIPR today announced that MacKenzie, the managing director of Liquid and an elected executive board director at the institute, had won the contest to become president-elect in 2016, president in 2017 and past president in 2018.

The election process kicked off at the start of September. On 1 October, days before it was due to end, Andy Green – the other presidential candidate – announced on Twitter that he was withdrawing from the race and seeking an "urgent review" of the process.

The CIPR faced calls to rerun the election from some members, and appointed an independent panel to review the process, which a CIPR spokesman said could have ordered the reopening of nominations.

That panel has now published its report on Green's withdrawal. It reveals that Green was initially disqualified from the election by Alastair McCapra, the CIPR CEO and returning officer for the election, on 30 September. This was due to complaints about Green running a competition soliciting tweets in support of his campaign in return for the chance to win £50 of Amazon vouchers - McCapra determined that this constituted "buying or procuring advertising", in violation of election rules.

Green then appealed the returning officer's decision, and then on 1 October publicly withdrew from the election. Prior to this, his disqualification was not made public knowledge pending the result of the appeal process.

Green argued in front of the panel that he had been following the 2013 version of the election rules, which were still hosted in one place on the CIPR website despite new rules being published in 2015, and argued that the competition did not constitute advertising as it had not been paid for.

In its decision, the panel says that the presence of different version of the rules was "unfortunate but not definitive since the candidates for president had been referred to the 2015 regulations currently in force, and it was their responsibility to ensure that they followed the correct rules". It also said that Green had not followed an instruction from McCapra to remove the Twitter competition.

The panel also recommended four procedural changes to the way the CIPR runs its elections and complaints made about elections in particular, including that it "appoint a returning officer who is independent of the CIPR, to take the position of CEO out of election disputes".

The CIPR has said that it will study these recommendations and listen to feedback from other members.

"The independent panel has highlighted no flaw in our processes, or in how we follow them. However if anyone wishes to make suggestions for changes to our processes, they can make them to president Sarah Pinch or to another member of the CIPR Board or Council," the CIPR website says.

When voting closed following Green's withdrawal, 919 votes had been cast by the CIPR's 7,881-strong electorate, with 534 of those for MacKenzie.

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