General secretary admits blame

Westminster student union general secretary Mustafa Field says a muddle over election rules led to him being unfairly banned from seeking re-election.

Speaking at a union executive meeting last week, the general secretary said he was solely responsible for a “fiasco” over election expenses.

But he added he did not intend to break the rules and plans to appeal against the decision.

In a leaked memo Field accepted responsibility for “organising and paying for campaign materials and for the submission of a fraudulent expense form” for a group of four students standing in elections earlier this month.

The general secretary and three other Westminster students, Maythem Kadhom, Martin Hurn and Pardeep ‘Oz’ Roy, were disqualified.

An investigation by NUS returning officer Vic Langer found that the team had spent more than the allowed amount on their election campaigns.

Kadhom, Hurn and Roy denied any wrongdoing and appealed against the decision. According to the student union they won their appeal. Nevertheless they will not be able to stand for election or have their votes re-counted.

Despite accepting that he did overspend, Field plans to appeal at a later date.

Field told WNOL last week: “I take full responsibility. Due to my position within the student union, I should have been aware that I was doing something wrong.“
But Field says the other candidates were “totally unaware” of the problem and entirely blameless.
By forming a team they were entitled to combine their individual £50 budgets to total £200.

The e-mail leaked to WNOL revealed that the team had overspent by £145.

Field said that the overspend was actually the campaign budgets of several other uncontested candidates. Their uncontested status made it unnecessary for them to spend it on a campaign. Field believed he was entitled, with their consent, to use this money for his team’s campaign. However, the uncontested candidates names were not promoted on the campaign literature.

Field believes that the advice he was given by a senior member of the student union prior to the elections suggested the names of the uncontested candidates did not need to be present on the campaign literature.

He claims to have been given different information immediately before the team were due to submit their expenses. Field concealed the extra expenditure and submitted a fraudulent expense form.

Kadhom, Hurn and Roy have been exonerated in relation to the fraudulent and misleading expense form claim and were originally told that their votes might be recounted. However, on the advice of the NUS, this decision was overturned and the students, although exonerated from blame, will not have their votes recounted.

Academic registrar Evelyne Rugg explained: “The returning officer decided that the disqualifications should stand because although they [Kadhom, Hurn and Roy] had been misled and were not a party to the fraud, they unfairly had much more publicity than the other candidates”.

Returning office Vic Langer from the NUS refused to comment.

Disqualified presidential candidate, Martin Hurn, intends to take his complaint higher within the NUS.

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