By a Newsnet reporter
Further questions have been raised over the conduct of officials from the Better Together campaign at postal vote sampling after another leading figure appeared to suggest he knew No were ahead, days before the ballot.
Speaking on the Politics Show on Sunday 14th September, John McTernan claimed to know that postal votes were favouring the No campaign.
McTernan, who was a former advisor to Tony Blair, told BBC presenter Andrew Neil:
“It’s important to remember that around a fifth of the electorate, a quarter of the total turnout, have voted already by postal vote and those postal votes are running very strongly towards No,
“So there’s a whole bank of votes in.”
McTernan’s comments are similar to claims made by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson who, speaking on election night, told the BBC that tallies of postal votes showed No ahead.
Speaking on a live BBC broadcast, 45 minutes after voting ended, the politician told host Glenn Campbell that agents had been able to “take tallies” of postal ballots which she said was “very positive” for her side.
Ms Davidson told the Scotland Decides programme: “We have had people at every sample opening around the country over the last few weeks… and we have been incredibly encouraged by the results from that.
“Going into today, going by the postal votes that were cast, our side would have had a lead and I think that we have a confidence, I hope a quiet confidence, that the quiet majority of Scots have spoken today.”
She added: “Different local authorities have had openings around the country. It is illegal to discuss that while any ballot is ongoing, so until ten o’clock tonight no one could talk about it.
“But there are people in the room that have been sampling those ballot boxes as they have been opened and they have been taking tallies and the reports have been very positive for us.”
Davidson’s claims have sparked a police investigation into alleged breaches of electoral law. It is forbidden to attempt to count votes at the sampling stage, which sees a random number of ballot papers inspected to ensure the personal details of the voter match official records.
Commenting this week, a spokesperson for the Electoral Commission told Newsnet Scotland: “Any breach of these rules would be for the police to investigate and, as such, any complaints we have received in relation to this matter have been brought to the attention of the Police Service of Scotland.”
Counting ballot papers during the sampling process is illegal and carries a jail sentence of up to one year.