Veterans’ and People’s Party
This document is the Constitution of the Veterans’ and People’s Party and is hereunder referred to as “the Party Constitution”.
|1||5th September 2017||R Burke||C Evans/J Gillingham||Issue for review|
|2||13th October 2017||R Burke||C Evans/J Gillingham/ E Ellis||Issue for Proofreading|
|3||17th October 2017||R Burke||J Hillman/A Conyers/D McAndrew||Issued for 2nd Proofread|
|4||23rd October 2017||R Burke||C Evans/J Hillman||3rd Proofreading & Amendments|
|5||3rd December 2017||R Burke||J Hillman/J Gillingham EC||Due Diligence|
|6||21st May 2018||R Burke||J Gillingham/Wendy Watkins||Name Change|
|Part 2||NAME AND OBJECTIVES OF THE PARTY|
|Part 3||ACTIVITIES OF THE PARTY|
|Part 5||PARTY MEMBERSHIP|
|Part 6||PARTY ORGANISATION AND PARTY CONFERENCE|
|Part 7||GENERAL MEETING|
|Part 8||BUSINESS MEETING|
|Part 9||THE BOARD|
|Part 10||POWERS OF THE BOARD|
|Part 11||COMPOSITION OF BOARD|
|Part 12||THE PARTY LEADER|
|Part 13||SEPARATION OF OFFICE|
|Part 14||STANDING AND TEMPORARY COMMITTEES|
|Part 17||THE CONSTITUTION: APPROVAL AND AMENDMENT|
|Part 18||PARTY RULE BOOK|
|Part 19||DISSOLUTION OF THE COMPANY/PARTY|
|Appendix 1||Your Rights and Responsibilities within VAPP|
|Appendix 2||Complaints Procedure for the Veterans’ and People’s Party.|
|Appendix 3||Policy and Procedures for Disclosure (‘Whistleblowing’)|
Abbreviations and Explanations:
PPERA - Political Parties, Elections and Referendum Acts 2000
GM - General Meeting
NSGM - Non-Scheduled General Meeting
Who are the Veterans’ and People’s Party (VAPP)?
The Veterans’ and People’s Party (the Party) exists to build and safeguard a free and open society in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one should be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full.
We aim to work in partnership with the British public, disperse power, to foster diversity and nurture creativity. We believe the role of the State is to enable all citizens to retain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities, and play an active role in the decisions affecting their lives, including and not limited to contributing to and suggesting changes to political policy and issues facing the country.
To that end we will listen to the public, consult them on policy and their concerns, speak for them and seek change where there are issues of injustice, challenging where necessary political tradition, intransigence, short-termism and elitism.
2.1 Name of the Party
2.1.1 The Veterans’ and People’s Party exists as a Political Party registered with the UK Electoral Commission under the PPERA. The Party bears the Electoral Commission Registration Number TBC. The registered name of the Party under the PPERA shall be the Veterans’ and People’s Party (VAPP) (hereinafter referred to as “the Party”).
2.1.2 This document refers to Party Leader and Deputy Party Leader; for the avoidance of doubt this reference is not gender specific and the Party Leader and Deputy Party Leader may be either gender.
2.1.3 The Party may also use such other names as may be registered occasionally with the Electoral Commission and may also use informally such other names as may occasionally be appropriate.
2.1.4 The Party exists as a Private Company Limited by Guarantee with no share capital registered with Companies House (Company Number: 10952874) in accordance with the Companies Act 2006 for transparency of funds generated by subscriptions, merchandise sales and donations.
2.1.5 Elected members shall serve as directors of the company from the date upon which they are declared elected in accordance with this Constitution and the Rules until the date upon which their successor is elected. Prior to selection of directors from elected members, the Party Leader, the Party Founder and the Nominating Officer shall work for the Party as directors of the Party.
2.2 Objectives of the Party
2.2.1 The Party believes that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (hereinafter “the United Kingdom”) should be governed by the Queen, her successors according to law, her elected members (MPs, MSPs, MLAs, AMs and Councillors), and her own citizens, and that its governance shall at all times be conducted first and foremost in the interests of the United Kingdom and its people and that the only laws applicable within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom are those wholly made by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. To that end it shall be the policy of the Party that the United Kingdom shall cease to be a member of the European Union forthwith and shall not make any treaty or join any international organisation which involves in any way the surrender of any part of the United Kingdom’s sovereignty. The Party further believes that the integrity of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland should be maintained.
2.2.2 In pursuit of these objectives the Party will, at all times, adhere to the principle of full equality before the law. The Party shall conduct itself and its affairs in such a way that it does not discriminate against or in favour of any person on the grounds of their race, religion, ethnic origin, education, beliefs, sexual orientation, class, social status, sectarianism or any other basis prescribed by law.
2.2.3 Furthermore, the Party shall, at all times, adhere to the principles of the rule of law, Liberty and democracy, and provide respect for the human rights and the essential, traditional freedoms of the people of the United Kingdom and those under the protection of the United Kingdom.
2.2.4 The Party is a democratic, libertarian Party and will adopt policies which:
a) promote and encourage those who seek to improve their personal situation and those who seek to be self-reliant, whilst providing protection for those genuinely in need;
b) support the ability of individuals to make decisions in respect of themselves;
c) seek to moderate the role of the State;
d) lower the liability of taxation on individuals and businesses;
e) ensure proper and fair control over the United Kingdom’s borders;
f) strengthen and guarantee the essential, traditional freedoms and rights of all people within the United Kingdom.
3.1 In furtherance of these objectives the Party may undertake the following activities:
a) the development of a full range of policies for domestic and foreign affairs and/or;
b) participation in all democratic electoral processes that take place within the United Kingdom or in such other places where it is lawful for the Party to stand for election, subject always to the proper use of resources belonging to the Party.
c) the Party may stand in all levels of elections to public office from elections to the European Parliament (whilst the UK remains a member of the European Union) down to Parish, Council level, including Mayoral elections.
3.2 In addition the Party may participate and campaign in any referendum, including but not limited to national, regional or local referendums.
3.3 The Party shall take up any seat to which it wins election regardless of any policy of the Party which espouses the abolition of such seat or election, subject always to the right of the Party Leader and the Board jointly to decide otherwise.
3.4 In the furtherance of its objectives, the Party may:
a) raise funds and invite and receive contributions from any legal or natural person whatsoever in such manner and to the extent and limits established by law, including but not limited to loans, subscriptions, donations, provision of work or materials in kind as agreed by the Board;
b) publish, with or without charge, any document it sees fit in any format;
c) employ and pay people to manage, supervise, organise and carry out the Party's aims, administer the Party and meet the Party’s obligations under the law and any other legitimate means to promote the Party;
d) purchase, lease or rent such real or personal property deemed necessary to carry out the Party's objectives and to conduct the Party’s administration;
e) invest any monies of the Party not immediately required, in accordance with the Trustee Act of 1925;
f) enter into contracts for the supply of goods, employment and services;
g) undertake any or all lawful activities under the Companies Acts.
4.1 The Board may create, suspend or disband branches or other means of organisation as may from time to time be required. Such constituency associations, branches or organisations may only be established with the written authority of the Board, which may delegate such authority to the Party Leader.
4.2.1 All persons employed by the Party hereof, or who are employed by any person elected to any public body as a Veterans’ and People’s Party candidate at the time of the coming into force of this Constitution, shall certify that they are willing to conform with the Rules of the Party hereunder shown in Article 5.2.
4.2.2 It shall be a condition of employment that no person so employed may be a person who has been excluded from membership of the Party by virtue of Rules or excluded from any social media pages related in any way to the Party. Such a condition shall expressly form part of their contract of employment. All such employees shall, before taking up employment, acknowledge in writing that they agree to be bound by the terms of this Constitution that relate to such employment. This requirement shall only apply to those who commence employment on the date of or after the coming into force of this Constitution.
4.2.3 For the avoidance of doubt, the purpose of the restrictions against employment of persons who have been excluded from membership by virtue of Rules herein is to prevent the reputational damage of the Party in any way whatsoever by such persons infiltrating the Party and being associated in any way with the Party. Nothing, however, in this Constitution shall prevent such persons supporting or making donations to the Party.
5.1 Membership of the Party shall be open to any natural person who shares the objectives and core beliefs of the Party and who agrees to abide by this Constitution and any Rules which may from time to time be made by the Party and who have not been excluded from membership by virtue of Rules made under Article 5.2.
5.2 Good Standing
5.2.1 Members are considered to be in "good standing" if at any given moment:
a) their subscriptions are up to date;
b) and they are not subject to any suspension or exclusion by the Party either from elected office, social media, or from standing as a candidate of any sort in any election; and
c) they are not subject to any form of suspension or restriction as to their membership of the Party or from the any social media pages related to V&PP.
Members who are in “good standing” shall receive a membership card and the Party's newsletter either by post or electronic mail. They shall be entitled to vote in all relevant internal Party elections or ballots, with the provision that no new member shall be entitled to vote in any such election until 28 days have elapsed from the commencement of his/her membership.
5.3.1 Notwithstanding anything in Article 5.2 of this Constitution, the Board may from time to time make Rules of Procedure concerning the refusal of or exclusion from membership of persons or classes of persons whose admittance to membership of the Party would, in its opinion, be damaging to the Party’s interests.
5.3.2 The Party Leader (or, in their absence their Deputy Party Leader) shall, without reservation or qualification, be entitled, subject to the approval of the Board, to refuse to admit any person to membership. Where it is deemed appropriate, factual explanation will be given for any such refusal.
5.3.3 Any person applying for or renewing membership of the Party shall, at the time of applying for or renewing that membership, certify that he is not a person disqualified from membership under Article 5.2 above. Renewal of membership may be treated by the Party as if it was an application for membership for the first time.
220.127.116.11 The Party Leader (or, in their absence, their designated deputy) shall, without reservation or qualification, be entitled, subject to the approval of the Board, to refuse to renew the membership of any person and may exercise this power without giving reasons for the same, if he/she deems it appropriate so to do.
5.3.4 Any person to whom membership is refused under Article 5.2 may appeal against that decision within 28 days of notification thereof being sent to them. Such an appeal shall be heard within a reasonable time by a panel composed either of the Party Secretary and two elected members of the Board or, at the discretion of the Party Secretary, by the Party Secretary and two persons independent of the Party; provided, in the case of an application to renew membership, that such right of appeal shall only extend to those who were members in “good standing” at the time of the application for membership or renewal of membership as the case may be.
5.3.5 The appeal panel shall give an opportunity to both the Party Leader (or in their absence their designated deputy) and the appealing person to be heard. The Appeal panel, in its discretion, may at the conclusion of the appeal publish the reasons for its decision, but is not bound to do so.
5.3.6 The Board or Sub Committee of the Board may:
a) at its discretion, review the powers, purposes, composition and usefulness of any Regional Committee, and vary or amend or disband in entirety the power they hold;
b) resolve any problems arising on any Regional Committee which cannot be resolved internally, if previously referred to the Board or not;
c) upon any disbandment of any regional committee, the financial reserves or any other assets shall be transferred to the Party via the Party Treasurer;
d) ensure any meetings held by regional committees are held in accordance with the Party orders for conduct of internal Party meetings.
5.4 Revocation of Membership
5.4.1 If, after becoming a member of the Party, a person;
a) joins another political party or organisation (whether registered with the Electoral Commission or not) or any organisation membership of which the Board has declared to be incompatible with membership of the Party; or
b) without the authority of the Board, sets up or has set up or has aided and abetted the setting up of another political party, whether registered with the Electoral Commission or not; or
c) is later found already to be a member of another political party or organisation membership of which the Board has declared to be incompatible with membership of the Party; or
d) stands against a VAPP candidate in any election; or
e) is found to be a person who has been expelled from the Party, the Party Leader shall revoke their membership forthwith. Any person whose membership is revoked under this Article may appeal against that decision within 28 days of notification thereof being sent to them. Such an appeal shall then be heard within a reasonable time by a panel composed either of the Party Secretary and two elected members of the Board or, at the discretion of the Party Secretary, by the Party Secretary and two persons independent of the Party.
5.4.2 The Board may from time to time make such rules as it deems appropriate concerning the employment by the Party and/or those elected to public office of persons falling within the ambit of Article 5.2 above. This contractual employment must only be selected if no alternate method of assistance can be sourced.
5.4.3 Upon being employed, all employees must sign a certificate that they are not a person who falls within the ambit of Article 5.2 above.
Subscriptions and terms of membership
5.5.1 The Board shall from time to time set such annual subscription fees as it deems appropriate and may define and set differential subscriptions for different categories of membership as it may from time to time deem appropriate.
5.5.2 By entering into membership the member agrees that at all times he/she will abide by the terms of this Constitution and the Rules of the Party. Any member who is in breach of this Constitution or the Rules made thereunder may be subject to the disciplinary procedures set out in the VAPP Disciplinary Document, VAPP Party Rules and any Rules of the Party made under this Constitution.
5.5.3 Members of the Party are deemed by their entry into membership to agree not to commit or omit to do any act (as the case may be), the commission or omission of which either:
a) brings the Party into disrepute; or
b) is intended to damage the Party’s interests; or
c) damages the Party’s interests; or
d) breaches any other disciplinary rule which the Board may from time to time deem appropriate to make.
5.5.4 Any member whose annual subscription has not been received by the Party within 30 days of the end of the month in which their membership subscription expired shall be regarded as having resigned their membership.
5.5.5 The Board may from time to time as it deems appropriate make rules concerning affiliation to the Party by other organisations. Such affiliated bodies shall not enjoy any voting rights under the Constitution.
6.1 The Board may from time to time make rules concerning the organisation of such Party structures which are not provided for in this Constitution.
6.2 The Annual Conference shall be open to Party members in “good standing”, associate members and guests. Its business shall include the consideration of motions on Party policy and strategy, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure and as registered in the Quality Management System.
6.3 Motions carried shall only have advisory force and will be listed for discussion by the Board within 6 months of the motion having been carried.
6.4 The Board may also summon other special conferences or NSGMs for specific purposes, which will be open to all Party members in “good standing”. The Board may from time to time make rules for the convening of and the procedures for the conduct of such conferences.
7.1 The Party Secretary shall call a General Meeting (GM), giving members a minimum of 28 days’ notice, if requested to do so by application in writing from at least twenty per cent (20%) of the Party’s duly registered and constituted constituency associations or branches.
7.2 Each such application shall include a written statement, signed by the respective branch or constituency association chairman as the case may be, certifying that the application was supported by a majority of members attending a properly convened Non Scheduled General Meeting of the constituency association or branch.
7.2.1 Each such application shall set out the business to be dealt with at the NSGM and the agenda of any such NSGM shall be restricted to that business and to matters arising.
7.2.2 Each such application shall further be accompanied by payments to VAPP Head Office account for such sum as shall be determined by the Board from time to time, drawn against the constituency association or branch bank account, as a contribution towards the cost of the meeting.
7.2.3 For the purposes of this Article, "constituency association" and "branch" shall bear the meaning ascribed to them under the Rules of the Party.
7.3 For the purposes of Article 7.1, a constituency association or branch is deemed to be duly registered only if it has been registered by the Party HQ (following approval by the Board) for not less than six months before the date of application.
7.4 Upon receipt of a valid application or petition under Article 7.2 hereof, the Party Secretary shall call a Non Scheduled General Meeting of the Party to be held within three months of such receipt.
8.1 The Party shall hold both a Business Meeting and a full Party Conference annually at such place and at such date and time as the Board may determine. Only Party members in “good standing” may vote at the Business Meeting and at the Annual Conference. Members shall produce a valid membership card in order to participate and vote in the Party Conference and Business Meeting.
8.2 The Business Meeting will be open only to Party members in "good standing”. Its business shall be:
a) to receive reports from the Party’s leaders and officers; and
b) to receive and note the Party's accounts hereof as required under company law.
8.3 All motions at the Business Meeting may be passed by a simple majority of those voting.
9.1 There shall be established a committee known as the Board which shall function as the principal management and administrative authority of the Party, in particular for the purposes of company law.
10.1 The duties, powers and responsibilities of the Board shall include (but are not limited to):
a) ensuring that the Party works towards the achievement of the objectives set out in Article 2 above in an efficient and judicious manner;
b) managing the Party's funds, structure and employees;
c) advising the Party Leader on political matters;
d) approving the Party's policies and manifestos;
e) ensuring that the Constitution of the Party is in accordance with the laws of the United Kingdom;
f) managing and conducting the Party’s disciplinary procedures;
g) making or amending from time to time such Rules of Procedure as it deems appropriate for the efficient conduct and administration of the Party and for the discharge of its responsibilities under this Article and under company law for the efficient running of the Party and the attainment of its objectives.
10.2 Within the Party, there may be roles which receive remuneration for the work carried out for the Party. These roles when voted upon by the Board, will be listed below and may be added to, as and when the Board see fit.
10.3 Remuneration is subject to Party funds being available and are in no way to be treated as a permanent income unless a contract of employment is drawn up and agreed by the Board contrary to the aforementioned statement.
10.4 All changes to the remuneration of the paid Party posts shall be discussed by all Board members and voted upon before a change can be implemented.
11.1 The Board shall normally be composed of the following voting members:
a) There will be 15 members elected to the Board;
b) The Party Leader (who may be an elected member);
c) The Nominating Officer;
d) The Campaign Officer, should one be appointed;
e) The Compliance Officer;
f) The Deputy Party Leader;
g) The Party Treasurer;
h) The Party Secretary;
i) The Head of Legal;
j) The Communications Officer;
k) An MP;
l) An AM;
m) An MLA;
n) An MSP;
o) A Councillor (elected by Party members at conference).
11.2 The Board may from time to time appoint further non-voting ex-officio members as it deems necessary for the efficient running of the Board.
11.3 The post of Party Treasurer is required under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 and the name of the Party Treasurer must be registered with the UK Electoral Commission. The Party Treasurer shall establish and chair a Finance Committee to be responsible for managing VAPP's general (non-campaign specific) finances and reporting these to the Board. The Party Treasurer will prepare annual accounts and present them at the Annual Business Meeting. The Party Treasurer will be responsible for complying with all statutes and requirements of the Electoral Commission applicable to financial reporting and probity.
11.4 The Party Treasurer's term of office shall be two years, which may be renewed; he/she may be removed before the end of their term by not less than a two-thirds majority vote of the Board.
11.5 The Party Treasurer may, subject to the approval of the Board, appoint Deputy Treasurers to assist with the tasks described above.
11.6 The Party Secretary is responsible, inter alia, for ensuring the administrative and other arrangements of the Party, and ensuring the Party complies with all legal requirements placed upon it by statute.
11.7 The Party Secretary's term of office shall be two years, which may be renewed; he/she may be removed before the end of their term by not less than a two-thirds majority vote of the Board.
Campaign Officer, should one be appointed
11.8 The Campaign Officer will convene members in joint advocacy and policy initiatives to secure changes in policy due to The United Kingdom’s EU responsibilities. Board Sub-Committees
11.9 The Board shall establish standing sub-committees for conference, discipline, finance, policy, standing orders and appeals, plus any temporary additional sub-committees it identifies as necessary for the administration of the Party. The composition of all sub-committees, the limits of their delegated powers and their operational details shall be in accordance with the Party Rule Book.
Eligibility for Board
11.10 Only paid-up members of the Party in “good standing” shall be eligible for election to and/or membership of the Board.
11.11 Notwithstanding anything in Article 11.8 hereof, any person who is:
a) a paid employee of the Party; or
b) one of the Party's elected representatives who receive in respect of their elected position, remuneration commensurate with full-time employment; or
c) a self-employed contractor providing services either to the Party or to any of the elected representatives of the Party shall not be eligible for election to the Board and upon becoming such shall resign from the Board.
11.12 Notwithstanding anything in Article 11.10, a paid-up member in “good standing” who provides paid professional advice or supplies goods or services on a casual basis to the Party or the Party's elected representatives from time to time shall not be excluded from membership of the Board. Any dispute as to the status of any member under this Article shall be conclusively determined by the Board.
11.13 If at any time the Party membership of a serving Board member shall be suspended, that member shall automatically be suspended from the Board and they shall not be entitled to resume their place until such time as the suspension of their Party membership is ended.
11.13.1 If at any time the Party membership of a serving Board member shall be revoked, that member shall automatically be expelled from the Board without the need for the Board to take any further action. Elections and Term of Office.
11.14 Members of the Board shall be elected for a term not exceeding 2 years and shall be eligible for re-election at the completion of each 2-year term. In exceptional circumstances the Board may extend the periods of office of retiring members for a period not exceeding six months.
11.15 Elections to the Board shall be conducted in accordance with rules laid down by the Board from time to time and shall take place annually on a date to be announced, together with the number of vacancies and the latest date for the receipt of nominations, in the issue of the Party newsletter penultimate to the election. The election shall be by way of a postal ballot of all members.
11.16 The election shall take place on the basis of the first past the post system. Each eligible Party member may cast a number of votes up to, but not exceeding, the number of vacancies and all votes shall be of equal value.
Resignation and vacancies
11.17.1 The resignation of a member of the Board shall either be evidenced in writing signed by the resigning member and sent or given to the Party Leader, or given orally, or sent via electronic mail. If given orally, the Party Leader shall write to the resigning member inviting him to confirm or to withdraw their resignation.
11.17.2 The resigning member shall reply to such invitation within fourteen days of the proof of receipt of letter or electronic mail. In the absence of a reply from the resigning member within that time he shall forthwith be deemed to have resigned from the Board.
11.18 Should a vacancy occur between elections, the Board may invite a candidate from the immediately preceding Board election to fill the vacancy until the next annual elections when the position shall be filled by election, subject always to the willingness of the invitee to serve. Members joining the Board in this manner shall have the same rights as elected members.
Conduct of Meetings
11.19 The Board shall meet at least six times a year. Meetings shall be chaired by the Party Leader or, in the Party Leader's absence, by the Deputy Party Leader appointed under Article 8.3 or, in the absence of them, by a member of the Board appointed by the Board for that meeting only, which appointment shall be duly minuted or may be electronically recorded. The plan for meetings shall be released within the first week of each calendar year to allow for member scheduling to be arranged.
11.20 Nine voting members of the Board including the Party Leader or, in the Party Leader's absence, the Deputy Party Leader appointed under Article 12.14, or such Board member appointed for that meeting as Chairman in accordance with Article 11.19, shall constitute a quorum.
11.21 Any five or more voting members of the Board may requisition an Emergency Meeting by notifying the Party Secretary in writing signed by each of them to summon one as soon as practicable. The document calling for such a meeting shall set out the business to be discussed and any motions to be put at that meeting. The agenda for the Emergency Meeting shall comprise solely this business and matters arising.
Suspension/Expulsion from Board
11.22 The Board may expel a member of the Board from the committee. A member of the Board may only be so expelled if a resolution to that effect is proposed and duly seconded and passed by not less than two-thirds of the voting members present. The quorum for such a proceeding shall be nine voting members of the Board.
11.23 The following shall be grounds for expulsion/suspension from the Board:
a) Conduct which in the opinion of the Board has caused or is likely to cause reputational damage to the Party or its leadership.
b) Serious breach of Board or Party confidentiality.
c) Persistent failure to attend Board meetings without good cause.
d) Unbecoming conduct in the course of Board meetings.
e) Conduct which in the opinion of the Board amounts to the abuse, harassment or bullying of a fellow member of the Board or an employee of the Party whether paid or unpaid.
11.24 The member against whom such a motion is proposed shall be given no less than seven days’ notice in writing of the meeting. They shall be entitled to attend, to address and vote at the meeting. They may make written representation to the meeting.
11.24.1 They may also question any member or other witness whose evidence is considered by the Board as being relevant to the issue on the same basis as any other party and may call witnesses on their own behalf on the same basis as obtained during the case against them.
11.25 If the member against whom such a motion is proposed cannot attend the meeting to discuss the motion, they must be given reasonable opportunity to attend on a subsequent occasion. Provided that they have been given reasonable notice of such rearranged meeting, the Board may proceed to deal with the matter in their absence if the Board is of the opinion that, in all the circumstances, it would be fair, reasonable and just to do so and that they have had reasonable opportunity to attend.
No Confidence Motions
11.26 A motion of no confidence in the Party Leader may be proposed before the Board. In order for it to pass no less than twelve of the fifteen members of the Board shall vote in favour of the motion. The Party Leader shall have a casting vote in the normal way.
11.27 The Party Leader shall be given no less than seven days’ notice in writing of the meeting. They shall be entitled to attend, to address and vote at the meeting. They may make written representation to the meeting. They may question any member or other witness whose evidence is considered by the Board as being relevant to the issue on the same basis as any other party and may call witnesses on their own behalf on the same basis as obtained during the case against them.
11.28 If the Party Leader cannot attend the meeting, they must be given reasonable opportunity to attend on a subsequent occasion to take place within ten days. Provided that they have been given reasonable notice of such rearranged meeting, the Board may proceed to deal with the matter in their absence if the Board is of the opinion that, in all the circumstances, it would be fair, reasonable and just to do so and that they have had reasonable opportunity to attend.
11.29 In the event of a motion of no confidence in the Party Leader being passed by the Board, the Party Secretary shall call an NSGM of members of the Party, such NSGM to be held within 28 days of the passing of the motion. The Board may from time to time make rules as to the conduct of such an NSGM. The NSGM shall have as its only business a motion to endorse or to reject the vote of no confidence in the Party Leader by the Board.
11.30 In the event that:
a) the NSGM convened under Article 6.23.6 rejects the vote of no confidence in the Party Leader; or
b) the Party Leader stands for and is re-elected as Party Leader at an election following a vote of no confidence in them by the Board,
elections shall be held in respect of each of the elected seats on the Board, with the result being declared no more than three months from the date of the refusal of the NSGM to endorse the Board's vote of no confidence or the date of Party Leader's re-election whichever the case may be. Until such time as those elections are held the Board elected members shall remain in office until their successors are elected.
11.31 In the event of a Board election with more than four vacancies, successful candidates other than the top four shall be elected for terms of two years or one year to preserve the three-year electoral cycle, but these terms of office may be extended to not more than 3 years should further Board vacancies occur.
11.32 The Board may authorise the establishment of groups of members or groups of constituency associations or branches in furtherance of the aims of the Party. These groups shall have responsibility for administering their own financial and other affairs in accordance with the procedures set down in the rules for the said groups.
11.33 The Board may from time to time permit the formation of groups within the Party known as Focus Groups and may, as it deems appropriate, make rules concerning such groups; subject always to the requirement that no such group may exist or operate within the Party save with the express written consent of the Board.
11.34 The Board shall also appoint the following Officers, described in Article 11.35 to 11.36.
11.35 A Secretary who shall:
a) formally convene meetings of the Board and its sub-committees and notify members thereof;
b) create and maintain appropriate electronic administrative records with appropriate data protected backup and archiving;
c) act as Secretary to the Board;
d) maintain accurate records and minutes of meetings and decisions of the Board and its sub-committees;
e) ensure that minutes and records are appropriately agreed and signed;
f) maintain and make available for distribution rules and other decisions made by the Board;
g) organise and conduct Board elections subject to Board rules;
h) maintain records of membership of the Board and its sub-committees.
i) this role will be fulfilled by a Board member or staff member.
11.36 A Nominating Officer, as required by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, who shall control the registered Party descriptions and emblems and be responsible for the appointment of Deputy Nominating Officers as appropriate, and Candidates.
11.37 The Board may from time to time create such further posts as it deems necessary for the more efficient exercise of its duties under this Constitution and appoint persons thereto.
11.38 The Board may from time to time invite any person it deems appropriate to attend any Board meeting in whole or in part.
12.1 Under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 all registered parties must appoint a Party Leader. The Party Leader shall give political direction to the Party and shall be responsible for the development of the Party’s policies with the agreement of the Board.
12.2 The Party Leader may, at their discretion, form such advisory groups as he/she deems appropriate to advise him/her on any matter pertinent to the exercise of their functions, and will inform the Board of the membership of such groups.
12.3.1 The Party Leader:
a) shall have the right to be a full member of all sub-committees and working groups set up by the Board;
b) may appoint a Party Chairman, subject to the approval of the Board, and allocate tasks relevant to the capability of the individual;
c) shall make or approve national statements of the Party's policies and the manner of their communication; and
d) may make such other appointments as he/she thinks fit, with the agreement of the Board.
12.3.2 Election for the post of Party Leader shall be by way of a postal ballot of all paid up members of the Party in “good standing”.
12.4 The Party Leader shall be an ex officio member of the Board if not already an elected member of it. The Party Leader will be entitled to a casting vote whether or not he is an elected member of the Board. The Party Leader may, notwithstanding their ex officio membership of the Board, be a full-time employee of the Party.
12.5 The Party Leader shall chair meetings of the Board, the Annual Business Meeting, Annual Conference and such Non Scheduled General Meetings as may be called. The Party Leader shall be responsible for maintaining accurate databases of membership and for safeguarding such databases within the terms of data protection legislation.
12.6 The Party Leader shall have overall responsibility for administration and direction of the Party organisation. He/she shall be responsible for ensuring that all efforts are made to have an active and properly constituted organisation of the Party in every constituency, financially able to support a parliamentary election campaign.
12.7 The Party Leader may make such administrative appointments as he/she sees fit and may recommend to the Board the creation of paid administrative posts. The Party Leader shall, from time to time, report to the Board on Party, branch and constituency activity or ensure that a report is made by an appointed Party officer, as appropriate, on such activity.
Term of Office
12.8 The Leader's term of office shall be for four years. This term may be extended for such time as may be deemed necessary upon the Board passing a motion by a two thirds majority to enable the Leader to stay in post in order to fight an imminent General Election or European Election, however in such event the period of extension shall be for no more than one year. The Party Leader may be elected for successive terms.
12.9 A leadership election shall be called:
a) in the event of the Party Leader's death, incapacity or resignation; or
b) on the passing of a vote of no confidence in the Party Leader by the Board if this is endorsed by a Non Scheduled General Meeting of the Party; or
c) upon the Party Leader's completion of their term of office.
Such election shall be held within 90 days of the completion of the Leader's term of office.
12.10 The Board may from time to time as it deems appropriate make rules for the calling and conduct of elections for the post of Party Leader.
12.11 A Party Leader shall communicate their decision to resign in writing to the Party Board who must then summon an emergency meeting of the Board within 48 hours.
12.12 If there is only one valid nomination for the post of Party Leader the candidate so nominated shall be declared elected as Party Leader without the need for a ballot. Any contested election for the leadership shall be decided by a simple majority of the votes cast. Those eligible to vote shall be members in “good standing” of the Party on the date when the election is called, subject always to the restrictions on voting set out in the final paragraph of Article above.
12.13 When a vacancy in the leadership occurs due to the Party Leader's death, incapacity, resignation or removal following a vote of no confidence, the procedure for a leadership election shall be initiated by the Party Secretary.
12.14 The Party Leader may from time to time appoint a member of the Party “in good standing” to be Deputy Leader who shall, in the absence of the Party Leader, chair the Board. The Deputy Leader shall carry out such duties as the Party Leader shall assign to him/her. The Deputy Party Leader may act generally in the place of the Party Leader if the Party Leader is absent for any period over two weeks or is incapacitated through illness or is otherwise unable to undertake the duties of Party Leader. Only one such officer shall act in the place of the Party Leader in the Party Leaders’ absence at any one time, unless the Board ratifies any additional requirement. The Deputy Party Leader will act in place of the Party Leader and shall have only the same voting powers as the Party Leader for the period of their absence.
12.15 Where a vacancy in the Party Leadership occurs unexpectedly, the Board shall within three days appoint an Interim Leader to lead the Party until a Leadership election takes place. Such Interim Leader shall have all the powers of the Party Leader under this Constitution as if he/she had been elected to that post.
13.1 The offices of Party Leader, Party Treasurer, Party Secretary, Deputy Party Leader, Nominating Officer and General Secretary shall each be held by a different individual.
14.1 The standing committees set up by the Board shall include a Conference Arrangements Committee, a Discipline Committee, a Finance Committee, a Constitution/Standing Orders Committee, a Policy Committee and an Appeals Committee. The Board may from time to time establish other committees as it deems necessary.
14.2 The Finance Committee shall be chaired by the Party Treasurer. Its responsibility shall be to oversee the management of the Party's finances and to appoint auditors.
14.3.1 The Discipline Committee shall be chaired by the Party Secretary and shall comprise in addition either two or four voting members of the Board. Any appeal panel formed for hearing appeals from disciplinary hearings or membership exclusions shall be composed of an independent Chairman and either two or four other persons independent of the Board.
14.3.2 The Discipline Committee shall have responsibility for conducting and arranging for all matters relating to discipline under this Constitution. The Board may make rules as to the manner of selection of the panel members of the Disciplinary Committee and of appeal panels.
Conference Arrangements Committee
14.4 The Conference Arrangements Committee will have the responsibility for all matters relating to organisation of the Party Conference, including the selection of motions for debate.
15.1 The Discipline Committee of the Board shall have jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to Party Discipline. The Board may from time to time as it deems appropriate make rules for the composition of discipline panels and management of matters of discipline and appeals, for the conduct of hearings and appeals under VAPP Disciplinary Document and for the procedure and evidence to be used by the Committee.
15.2 All disciplinary hearings, investigations and appeals shall be conducted with proper regard for the rules of natural justice to ensure that any member subject to such proceedings receives a fair hearing at each stage of the disciplinary or appeals procedure.
15.3 Any member in “good standing” may refer the conduct of any other member to the Party Secretary who shall act in accordance with the rules made under this Article and the rules of natural justice.
15.4 Thereafter the Party Secretary shall likewise act in accordance with the rules made under VAPP Disciplinary Document and the rules of natural justice.
15.5 Upon the conclusion of any disciplinary hearing the Discipline Committee may:
a) issue oral or written advice to the Respondent Member as to future conduct;
b) give the Respondent Member a written caution as to future behaviour;
c) suspend the Respondent Member from attending constituency association meetings for a specified period, dependent on severity of the offence;
d) suspend the Respondent Member from membership of the Party for a specified period, dependent on severity of the offence;
e) suspend the Respondent Member from an elected Party post and/or candidature for elective post for a specified period, dependent on severity of the offence;
f) expel the Respondent Member from membership for a specified period or permanently, dependent on severity of the offence;
g) take any other reasonable and proportionate action that it deems to be warranted by any particular circumstance;
h) take no action; or
i) if the Respondent Member is elected to public office, remove the Party Whip. The Discipline Committee shall at all times exercise its powers with proper regard for the principle of proportionality. The Party Secretary shall provide a report of all disciplinary hearings and appeals to the Board upon their conclusion.
Right of Appeal
15.6 Any member disciplined under the VAPP Disciplinary Document shall have the right of appeal against such order as is made thereunder. Such appeal shall be dealt with in accordance with the Rules of the Party concerning discipline.
15.7 The Board may cause any disciplinary panel to be chaired by an Independent Chairman and may appoint such a Chairman who need not be a member of the Party.
15.7.1 The Board shall cause an appeal hearing to be chaired by an Independent Chairman and may appoint such a Chairman who need not be a member of the Party. No person who sat on a disciplinary hearing at first instance may be a member of the appeal panel for the matter at hand. If an Independent Chairman is selected to sit in a dih7sciplinary panel, the party non-disclosure agreement must be signed prior to any meeting or discussion of the case in point.
15.8 In addition to the rules outlined in VAPP Disciplinary Document, the Board may from time to time as it deems appropriate make rules as to the qualifications required for appointment as an Independent Chairman.
15.9 In cases of exceptional gravity and urgency the Party Leader may, with approval of the Board, exercise any of the powers set out in the VAPP Disciplinary Document except that under 16.5 (f) above in respect of any member, with due regard to proportionality. The Party Leader shall, within twenty-four hours of so acting, notify the Party Secretary of their action.
15.10 Upon being so notified the Party Secretary shall convene as soon as possible an Emergency Disciplinary Panel composed of himself (or an Independent Chairman appointed in accordance with the rules made under VAPP Disciplinary Document and Article 10) and not more than two voting members of the Board.
15.11 The Emergency Panel may:
a) confirm the order of the Party Leader; or
b) confirm the order of the Party Leader but order that the matter be placed before an ordinary Disciplinary Panel as soon as possible for a full hearing; or
c) make any order permitted by this Constitution; or
d) revoke the order of the Party Leader on the grounds that the action was either:
(i) inappropriate having regard to the circumstances; or
(ii) excessive having regard to all the circumstances; or
(iii) not supported by the facts. In that event the Party Leader may within fourteen days of the findings of the Emergency Disciplinary Panel renew the complaint under the ordinary disciplinary procedure.
15.12 It shall be no defence to any allegation laid under this Article that the Party member was ignorant of the Constitution or any Rule made thereunder.
Approved Candidates Lists
16.1.1 The Party shall establish lists of approved candidates for elections to public office. The Board may from time to time make such rules as it deems fit for the establishment of such approved lists. Persons holding elective office shall have no automatic right to re-selection or to a place on such approved candidates lists.
16.1.2 Any person who seeks to be placed on such approved candidate lists shall make a written application and, without exception, shall in such application make a full disclosure of any material fact, political or personal (whether or not the material fact arose before or after this Constitution came into force), that has or may have a bearing on their suitability for selection as a candidate and shall provide full details in writing of the same to the Party Leader. The Board shall issue guidance on disclosure.
Duty of Disclosure
16.1.3 Once selected, candidates remain, without reservation or qualification, under a continuing duty fully to disclose to the Party Leader any material fact, political or personal (whether or not the material fact arose before or after this Constitution came into force) that has or may have a bearing on their suitability to stand as a candidate and shall provide full written details of the same to the Party Leader.
16.1.4 Any failure to disclose such a material fact shall be a matter in respect of which disciplinary proceedings under VAPP P Disciplinary Document hereof may be initiated against the candidate. The Party Leader or the Party Leader shall automatically refer such a matter to the General Secretary and Party Secretary who may then act under VAPP Disciplinary Document and the rules made thereunder.
Suspension and Removal
16.2.1 The Party Leader may suspend any candidate from the approved list or remove any candidate from the list of candidates to be nominated or having been nominated, if, in their opinion, the inclusion and possible election of that candidate will or may damage the reputation or interests of the Party.
16.2.2 Such a suspension shall be notified forthwith to the Board and the candidate.
16.2.3 Thereafter the Board may proceed to determine whether or not the candidate shall be removed from or restored to the list of approved candidates or remain nominated by the Party. 17.2.4 Once a candidate is finally removed from the list or their nomination is withdrawn according to law, they automatically lose all rights to be the selected candidate and the association, branch or region concerned shall select a new candidate.
16.3 A candidate who is removed from the approved candidates list or whose nomination is withdrawn shall have the right to an appeal according to rules made by the Board pertaining to candidates.
Selection of Candidates
16.4 The Board may from time to time as it deems appropriate make rules concerning all matters relating to the selection, training, nomination, ranking, conduct, removal and organisation of candidates.
16.5 All candidates standing on behalf of the Party in any election to public office must be paid-up members of the Party in “good standing” and on the Party's list of approved candidates, held at Head Office.
16.6 In the case of a by-election (other than local government by-elections and other by- elections to local public office) the selection of a candidate will be made by the Board in consultation with the constituency association or branch.
16.7 The selection of candidates for local government by-elections and other by-elections to local public office shall be the responsibility of constituency associations or branches. The Party Leader may at any time refer the selection to the Board.
Codes of Conduct
16.8 The Board may from time to time as it deems necessary and appropriate make:
a) Codes of Conduct for those holding elective office in the Party's name;
b) Rules defining the nature of the Party Whip, the circumstances in which the Party Whip may be removed and the consequences and the sanctions which may be applied when the Party Whip is removed or the elected member resigns the Party Whip.
16.9 It shall be the duty of any member of the Party who is elected to any elective office:
a) to abide at all times by any such Code of Conduct and the Rules drawn up under Article 12.8; in addition to any external rules and guidelines relating to their elected office.
b) at all times to behave in a manner becoming to such elective office.
16.9.1 Any breach of such Code of Conduct, Rules or failure to observe Article 17.9 (b) may be treated as a matter falling within Article 5.2.
16.10 The Board shall refer any breach of any Code of Conduct or Rules made under Article 11.23 to the Disciplinary Committee according to the provisions of VAPP Disciplinary Document, whereupon those provisions shall be followed as if the matter was an ordinary matter pertaining to discipline.
16.11 Notwithstanding any legal waivers, immunities, or dispensations granted by virtue of a candidate’s election to public office, the Board shall have the right to regard all undertakings signed by candidates prior to their election or subsequent to it as morally binding and binding under the Rules of the Party and shall have the right to remove the Party’s Whip from, de-select, refuse to re-select or to expel from the Party any member who is in breach of any such undertaking under this Article.
17.1.1 For the purpose of registration of the Party with the Electoral Commission this Constitution shall come into force immediately once approved by the Board.
17.1.2 This Constitution will once the Party is registered, and at a time to be determined by the Board, then be put before the members for consideration and approval by members voting in a postal or electronic internet-based ballot according to the requirements of the Constitution in force at that time.
17.1.3 Thereafter amendments to the Constitution may be proposed/made at any time in accordance with this Article. Such amendments shall only come into force after a postal or electronic internet-based ballot of the membership has been held in which not less than two-thirds of members voted in favour of them.
17.1.4 Such amendments shall then come into force seven days after the result of such an affirmative vote is declared.
Such a ballot shall be held;
a) If proposed by the Board and approved by a two-thirds majority of those voting; or
b) At the request of twenty or more properly constituted and duly registered constituency associations or branches which have communicated their proposal for such amendment or amendments in writing to the Party Leader who may require the constituency associations or branches to fund the cost of the ballot.
17.1.5 Any constituency association or branch requiring a vote to be taken on a proposed amendment shall file with the Party Leader a certificate that the majority of members at a properly constituted Non Scheduled General Meeting or Annual General Meeting of the constituency association or branch voted in favour of such an amendment.
17.2 The Board shall have the right in addition to its own proposals to amend the constitution, the right to put separate and distinct elements or clauses amending the Constitution to separate votes for the approval of a two-thirds majority of members voting in a postal or electronic internet-based ballot.
18.1 The Party Rulebook shall be published on the Party’s website and a hard copy shall be available on demand to any member upon payment of a fee, to be determined by the Board from time to time, for printing and postage.
18.2 Any Rules made under this Constitution shall be read in conjunction with it and where the Rules are repugnant to the Constitution, the latter shall prevail.
19.1 In the event that the company and or the Party becomes dissolved or insolvent, it’s assets should firstly be applied towards legal and legislative requirements of the company, in accordance with Company Law, then to the payment of company debt.
Any further funds and assets then being held either by the Party or by administrators in accordance with legislation once these debts have been settled, shall then either be applied to:
a) any successor company, established on behalf of the Party, to ensure its continuation; or
b) to another successor party, in the case of a merger; or
c) in the case of there being no successor company or party, to a political group or party with the same mission and or values of the Party, or to a charity or foundation serving the people and armed services of the United Kingdom and the veterans thereof.
1 You have the right to be treated with respect. This applies to all members, staff, and volunteers. Treating others with respect includes not bullying, harassing, or intimidating them. It also means at the most basic level, treating others as you would wish to be treated.
2 You have the right to be treated equally. The Veterans’ and People’s Party will not discriminate as to age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, or sex.
3 You have the right to be treated fairly. This is in regard to all aspects of Party life – from the workings of your local party to your dealings with the National Party, committees and members of staff.
4 You have the right to be treated within the Party rules. All action that the Party takes towards you will be within its own rules. These can be found in the Constitutions, Standing Orders, in membership rules and in any additional operational and policy documents.
5 You have the right to make a complaint in confidence. Any complaint you make will be treated on a ‘need to know’ basis, and no information will be passed on without your consent.
6 You have the responsibility to treat others with respect. As a supporter or member you have a responsibility not to bully, harass, or intimidate other supporters, members, volunteers, Party employees, members of Parliamentary staff or members of the public.
7 You have the responsibility to treat others without bias The Veterans’ and People’s Party reject all prejudice and discrimination, and are opposed to all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality. As a supporter or member you will not discriminate as to age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, or sex.
8 You have the responsibility not to bring the Party into disrepute ’Bringing the Party into disrepute’ refers to your behaviour both as a supporter or member and as an individual. You should never behave in a way which could negatively impact the reputation of the Party if your behaviour was to be made public.
1 The Veterans’ and People’s Party aim to be the most accountable and transparent party within UK politics. To this end we have published this guidance to assist anyone wishing to make a complaint or indeed are dealing with a complaint that has been made against the Veterans’ and People’s Party or its supporters, members, volunteers or elected members. If you have a complaint we wish to hear about it and we will do our best to put it right.
2 Our complaints procedure has the following goals:
3 Complaints are something that we aim to resolve through conversation, discussion and better understanding. Should you wish to bring a more formal action against something you believe is criminal or potentially grounds for revoking of membership, then you should not use this procedure as it is not intended to be a substitute for the following:
4 If you are a member of staff and wish to raise a concern in confidence, and you do not feel this can be trusted to your line manager, you should follow the Whistleblowing Policy. If, however, you have a complaint or grievance that does not fall into any of the above categories, you should follow the guidance in this document.
5 If you are in any doubt, please contact the Complaints Department by email to email@example.com or you can use the complaints form on our website found at http://www.vapp.org/complaints/ Before you make a complaint, and to assist you decide the most appropriate process here are some definitions:
6 For further details on whistleblowing, see our whistleblowing policy.
7 Who can use this guide?
8 What people should expect from the Party member or employee?
You have the right to be treated fairly, equally and with respect and dignity.
9 Types of situations we investigate:
10 This is not an exhaustive list. We cannot investigate if the complaint concerns someone who is not a member of the Party or an employee. If alleged criminal conduct is the subject of the complaint that the police should be contacted.
11 Before making a complaint to the Party:
12 Making a complaint to the Party:
The Party aims to resolve complaints as soon as possible.
13 Informal process:
Many complaints can be resolved informally. In the first instance every effort should be made to resolve the complaint locally through the Chair of the relevant Party organisation, e.g. the local Party, Council group, Assembly group or the Parliamentary Party group.
Contact details can be found on our website. If you are unsure of who to contact please contact our Complaints Department who will provide you with the details. If you feel able, speak to them and they will try to resolve the matter.
If the complaint is about an employee please contact:
14 When making contact with the Party:
i) If you use the complaints form on the website, please make a note of the time and date you send your complaint.
ii) If you make contact via a letter, please make a note of who you sent it to and the date posted. Sending via recorded delivery may be beneficial to ensuring it is received.
iii) If you make contact in person or by phone, please make a note of the name of the person you speak to. If a solution is offered at this point, please make a note of this also.
15 Formal process:
i) If you are unsatisfied with the response or do not wish an informal solution, you may pursue a formal complaint.
ii) Report the incident in writing stating Formal Process using either the complaints form available on our website, which asks for information we need in order to investigate the complaint and gives us permission to show it to the person in question, or write direct to our Complaints Department at our Head Office address, alternatively you may email us at Complaints@vapp.org
iii) Send the completed form to either the local or regional Chair, or the Complaints Department. If you are unsure of who to contact, please contact the Complaints Department at firstname.lastname@example.org who will be able to give you the contact details of the local or regional Chair if applicable.
16 Whilst we take complaints seriously and review all complaints once complete in order to assist us improve our service and procedures, it is important to note that resolution does not always mean that all parties will be happy with the decision.
Each complaint we receive is treated on its own merit.
Our process will involve:
17 Where the Party feels no further investigation is required, the results will be set out in writing either in an email or letter to you. If your complaint is to be investigated, you may need to provide further evidence in order for the Party to reach a decision.
PLEASE NOTE: The Party will not usually investigate a complaint that relates to an incident that is more than 12 months old, except in exceptional circumstances as decided by the board.
18 We aim to acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 14 working days and we aim to resolve your complaint within 30 days. This may not always be possible due to circumstances beyond our control.
Useful website for victims of sexual assault: http://www.mydecision.co.uk
1 The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 gives legal protection to employees against being dismissed or penalised by their employers as a result of publicly disclosing certain serious concerns. It is fundamental to any employment contract that an employee will be loyal to his or her employer and will not disclose confidential information outside the organisation.
However, from time to time, a member of staff might discover information which he or she believes shows wrongdoing or malpractice within the organisation. On such occasions it must be made possible for the information to be disclosed without fear of reprisal and, where appropriate, to someone other than the direct line manager.
2 The Party is committed to the highest standards of honesty, openness and accountability. It aims to ensure that it operates in a responsible manner, taking into account standards set out in and by the Electoral Commission, Companies House, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the Palace of Westminster, the Ministerial Code, the Civil Service Code, the Charity Commission, other National, Regional and Local Government regulations and guidelines, and the requirements of funding and other bodies and Data Protection Standards (Due to be changed in 2018 to GDPR).
3 The Party recognises that individual members of staff, its supporters, volunteers, members, and elected officials have an important role in helping to achieve this aim. It is often these individuals who are first to know if someone in the Party, or connected with it, appears to be acting illegally or improperly. They may feel apprehensive or anxious about raising their concerns, and their loyalty to the Party or to a colleague may prevent them from doing so. They may also be concerned that they will not be taken seriously or about any action against themselves a disclosure might provoke.
4 The Party encourages individuals who have knowledge, or reasonable suspicion, of wrongdoing to come forward. The Party takes all wrongdoing seriously and believes any evidence suggesting such behaviour should be investigated thoroughly.
5 The purpose of this procedure is to assist and enable all individuals linked with the Party to raise concerns or to disclose information which they believe, in good faith, may indicate malpractice. Individuals are encouraged and expected to use this procedure rather than to air their grievances outside the Party. There are potential consequences of not using these procedures, which are set out below.
Scope of the Policy and Procedure
6 The Public Interest Disclosure Act limits its protection to employees, agency workers and self-employed workers. However, this policy and procedure extends similar protection to supporters, members of the Party, volunteers, elected members as well as employed staff of the Party.
7 The policy and procedures are concerned with alleged malpractice, impropriety or wrongdoing in the institution being it is in the Party’s or public’s interest to disclose. Whilst it is difficult to provide an exhaustive list, these might include the following:
8 It can be difficult to decide whether a particular action falls within the procedures and it may be that, when concerns are investigated, it appears appropriate to address them through other more specific procedures. For instance, the Party has policies and procedures in place covering staff grievances, complaints and discipline matters. In such cases, the matter will not normally be considered under the Public Interest Disclosure Procedures.
9 As part of its day to day conduct of business the Party takes decisions under established and reasonable procedures. It is not intended that this procedure will allow such decisions to be questioned unless on grounds of malpractice, impropriety or wrongdoing
Procedure for Making and Investigating a Disclosure
10 Concerns should normally be expressed in writing to the Party Secretary, who is designated with responsibility for oversight of this procedure. If, however, an allegation directly concerns the Party Secretary, or their involvement would not be appropriate for any other significant reason, an individual may write to the Chair of the Party.
11 The Party Secretary, or any other senior executive identified by the Chair of the Party, will consider the information disclosed and decide whether the matter falls within the scope of this procedure and, if so, whether there are grounds for proceeding with an investigation.
This will depend on the nature of the matter and may involve:
12 The investigation will not be conducted by the Party Secretary or any other person who may need to take a significant decision arising from the findings. It will be conducted as sensitively as possible, and normally be complete within eight weeks of the disclosure being made. The investigation will also take into account concepts of natural justice and the need to safeguard individual reputations.
13 When an allegation concerns a named individual, the person concerned will be informed of the allegation and of the evidence supporting it. He/she will be invited to respond to the allegation as part of the investigation and/or before any final conclusion is reached.
14 The point at which it is appropriate for the individual to be informed will depend on the nature of the case. In any hearing under these procedures, the individual making the disclosure and the person against whom an allegation has been made are both entitled to be accompanied by his/her union representative or by a colleague or friend.
15 The findings of any investigation will be reported to the Party Secretary or other identified person who will reach a decision on any further action to be taken. Following an initial investigation, other internal procedures may be identified as relevant and may be invoked, such as the disciplinary, grievance or complaints procedures.
16 In some cases it may be appropriate to refer a matter outside the Party for further investigation. The Party Secretary or other person will inform the individual making the disclosure of the conclusion reached and what action, if any, is to be taken and why.
17 If the individual making the disclosure is dissatisfied about how an inquiry was carried out, and its resultant outcome, then he/she may appeal only on procedural grounds to the Chair of the Party, who may order a procedural review and establish its terms of reference.
18 If the initial disclosure was made to the Chair, an appeal may be made to the Appeals Committee.
19 A report summarising all disclosures and inquiries and any subsequent actions taken will be made by the Party Secretary or other person to the Board. Such reports will be retained for a minimum of three years.
20 The Party is keen to ensure that the position of both the individual raising concerns and anyone about whom allegations might be made are safeguarded. It will do this through the following measures:
The procedure offers protection against dismissal or other penalty by the Party to those individuals who disclose any relevant concerns, provided that the disclosure is made:
The Party will aim to treat all disclosures and information regarding any action taken under these procedures in a confidential and sensitive manner, in particular:
The identity of the individual making an allegation will remain confidential, unless otherwise agreed with that individual, so long as it does not hinder or frustrate the investigation and is compatible with natural justice. However, the investigation process may at some stage need to reveal the source of the information, and the individual making the disclosure may at that stage need to provide an attributable statement as part of the evidence to be presented.
During the course of any investigation the Party will, as far as is reasonably possible without prejudicing that investigation, endeavour to maintain confidentiality regarding the names of any person/people named in an allegation.
Individuals are normally expected to put their name to any disclosures or allegations they make. Concerns expressed anonymously will not normally be addressed. However, at its discretion the Party may decide to do so after taking into account the seriousness of the issues raised; and the credibility of any allegations; and the likelihood of being able to substantiate the allegation through attributable sources.
No action will be taken against an individual who makes an allegation in good faith even if it is not confirmed by subsequent investigation. If, however, an individual makes what is subsequently determined by the Party Secretary or the Chair of the Party to be malicious or vexatious allegations or made for personal gain, and particularly if he or she persists in making them, disciplinary action may be taken. A disclosure may be deemed malicious or vexatious at any stage of the procedure.
If an individual is unclear on whether to use this procedure, or if they want independent advice at any stage, they are advised to contact the following, as appropriate:
21 This policy and procedure is designed to clarify for individuals the route through which concerns can be raised and to assure them that such matters will be taken seriously and acted upon within the Party. The Party takes the view, in the vast majority of cases, an internal investigation and decision is likely to be the most appropriate course of action.
22 Should an individual raise matters of concern outside the Party without first using this procedure, he/she may be in breach of the procedure and potentially will have committed a disciplinary offence, especially if it causes, or might have caused, unnecessary reputational damage to a member of the Party or to the institution. In such circumstances, an individual may be deemed as having waived their rights under the Public Interest Disclosure Act.
23 In particular, it would not usually be considered appropriate for matters to be raised publicly in the media before an investigation is completed. Public Concern at Work are able to advise independently on these matters.
24 Should you have a query about this policy or its applicability, in the first instance, please contact The Party Secretary of VAPP.