Home, UK Tuesday, 20 May 2014 6pm BST
I am now raising a formal complaint in respect of the AGM elections this year about Nominet’s Election Committee, Nick Wenban-Smith, Nominet Board and Popularis for tampering with the election mechanism and for not running a fair and open and transparent election. This has arisen mainly due to Nominet writing disclaimers on Oscar O’Connor’s election statement, yet failing to make transparent a significant Conflict of Interest on Oliver Hope’s election statement. In addition the constant delays in responses by Nominet’s Senior Counsel, who continually chose to respond incompletely to emails and the Election Committee taking nearly 2 weeks to respond to concerns raised.
Yes, I have finally done it, and now hope that Nominet do something. Although I doubt they will. Over the year they seem to have wrapped themselves up into this bubble full of stubborn and believe they are holier-than-thou. Transparency? They no longer think it is required.
I complained to Popularis, the Election Scrutineer. They said I need to raise a complaint with Nominet. Nominet’s election committee.. they do not seem to care about openness and transparency. Apparently, they do not think Oliver Hope’s conflict of interest (which he failed to mention in his election statement) is a cause for concern and that members do not really need to know about it.
With whom do I raise the complaint then? Seems like no one. Going around in circles. Nominet reference Popularis as the adjudicator, yet Popularis tell me they are not and for the complaint to be raised with Nominet.
So, I raised the complaint with Nora Nanayakkara, Chair of the Election Committee, Nick Wenban-Smith (Nominet Senior Legal Counsel), Nominet’s Elections admin, and Popularis (Election Scrutineer). Let’s see what happens.
Anyway, in the name of openness and transparency, below is Nora’s email to me, and my response to her (in which I officially complained)..
From: Nora Nanayakkara ; 20 May 2014
I know that you have been in correspondence with Nick Wenban-Smith and Popularis about a perceived inconsistency in a fellow candidate’s election statement and remain unhappy with the responses you have received. I am therefore writing to you in my capacity as Chair of the sub-committee of directors which is overseeing the Non Executive Director election process this year.
I should first confirm that Nick did indeed forward your concerns to the Elections Committee, that he had discussed the matter with Popularis and that the Committee considered all the inputs in detail.
As you know, the candidate materials are provided by the candidates themselves, and we have published them all in full. Nominet cannot accept responsibility for the completeness or consistency of candidate disclosures. The assertions contained in the candidate materials are their own and therefore the candidates themselves are best placed to answer questions about these. We don’t undertake any verification checks on the declarations of interests provided by candidates and therefore can only confirm that the elections scrutineer, Popularis, has indicated to the Committee that it sees no basis for a complaint about election process tampering.
Nominet made candidate recommendations available in response to Membership requests for Board guidance in this regard. We made these recommendations following an assessment of candidates’ professional skills and experience against the published role criteria.
I understand you have published your views on your fellow candidate’s disclosures widely through the Nominet Membership forum, social media and your blog. Members are able to view these alongside the elections material and are free to contact and discuss the election statements with candidates individually where they wish. Members are of course, as ever, entirely free to cast their votes as they see fit.
I hope you find this helpful in clarifying the Elections Committee’s response to the procedural concerns mentioned in your email.
And my response to her:
From: Denesh Bhabuta ; 20 May 2014
Thanks for your reply, however I must correct you and state that it is not a perceived inconsistency but an actual one.
May I ask why it took you 12 days to respond? In a time limited election, 12 days is nearly half the election time. Why the delay (which I must say has been noted in Nick Wenban-Smith’s response times too). One could easily deduce Nominet having ulterior motives in this regard.
Who else is on the Election Committee?
The fact that nether Popularis, nor Nominet (or it’s Election Committee) want to do anything about it is seriously worrying and I call into question the transparency of due process at Nominet and especially in respect of the current election and it’s recommended candidates.
Popularis point me to Nominet to make any complaints, and Nominet point me to Popularis. A never ending circle.
With whom do I raise a complaint? Please let me know ASAP as I am raising a complaint about Nominet tampering with the election process. This complaint is about everyone on the Election Committee, Nick Wenban-Smith and Popularis, and ultimately the Nominet Board.
Is this something I need to contact the Government about?
If as you say that candidates are best placed to answer anything in their election statements then why did Nominet take it upon themselves to write a disclaimer on Oscar’s statement? Why not leave it to the membership to make up their own minds about his credentials rather than Nominet giving a prejudiced view against him and thus making the reader have a pre-conceived idea about him?
Yet, when it comes to the Board’s recommended candidate, something that has been brought to their attention which is a major and significant conflict of interest (regardless of whether he is an executive director or not, the point is it is Mesh Digital, of which Oliver is a senior member of staff and given special mention on their website), Nominet want to deflect it with excuses which have no bearing.
To me, this is where there is a glaring discrepancy between what Nominet say they do and what they actually do. I am sure you can not disagree about the fact that this is an actual inconsistency rather than a perceived one.
If Nominet make recommendations based on assessment of candidate professional skills, then may I ask why go through the farce of an election? Why not simply appoint the candidate you want?
Where are the open and transparent reasons showing why Oliver is a strong candidate as compared to the others? What is it he particularly brings to the Board which the others do not bring, or are not already provided by the existing Board?
If Nominet wish to give reasons, please also provide the information backing your recommendations rather than holier-than-thou blanket statements which have been coming across.
I am also flabberghasted that you give my blog the reason for Nominet not to make Oliver’s conflicts of interest public.
For starters, I was hoping for Nominet to be open and transparent and fix the omission which I had brought to light. It was only due to Nick Wenban-Smith’s disregard for due process and lack of response from yourselves that I wrote the blog… Unfortunately I gave yourselves too much time.. as the blog was written only a few days ago.
You can not use that as an excuse for Nominet to do nothing. If you really believe that all members will have seen this, then I am sorry but my confidence in you as chair of the Election Committee and wanting to uphold openness, transparency and due election process, has diminished completely. If you wish all members to see it, then please call and email all members and point them to my blog – in the same way you did with the third party calling all members recommending they vote.
By the time I had written my blog, most members had already voted. You know this, Nominet knows this, Popularis knows this.. and you are quite comfortable with that position.
Nora, your email has certainly been helpful in clarifying the Election Committee’s lack of openness, transparency and believing in fair elections.
With this in mind, I am now raising a formal complaint in respect of the AGM elections this year about Nominet’s Election Committee, Nick Wenban-Smith, Nominet Board and Popularis for tampering with the election mechanism and for not running a fair and open and transparent election. This has arisen mainly due to Nominet writing disclaimers on Oscar O’Connor’s election statement, yet failing to make transparent a significant Conflict of Interest on Oliver Hope’s election statement. In addition the constant delays in responses by Nominet’s Senior Counsel, who continually chose to respond incompletely to emails and the Election Committee taking nearly 2 weeks to respond to concerns raised.
I look forward to an acknowledgment of my email.