Tribunal declares Union rules changes invalid

Outgoing Union President Mayank Banerjee’s controversial rules changes have been declared null by a tribunal, whilst Returning Officer Thomas Reynolds was cleared of interfering with Union elections.

Banerjee, whose term ends at midnight on Saturday, fought for the rules changes, which involved the legalising of campaigning, including slates, and the introduction of a Re-Open Nominations (RON) option. In a poll he conducted in 5th week, over 90 per cent of voters approved the rule changes. 

However, Returning Officer Thomas Reynolds, who ran the Union elections in a 7th week which saw Roberto Weeden-Sanz elected as President for Trinity 2015 after he ran unopposed, issued an interpretation which declared the rule changes invalid during the election. 

At the time, Reynolds stated that in changing the rules via poll, Banerjee’s own interpretation of the rules was “wrong”, adding that under the conditions of the President’s poll, “It is insupportable for me to run these Elections in a transparent and correct manner.” 

Reynolds issued the ballot papers for the election without a RON option on them, despite Banerjee insisting that the rule changes would be in place for the election.

Banerjee had originally claimed that if his rule changes were not in place for the election, he would resign. However, he told Cherwell that despite the tribunal’s decision that his rule changes were invalid, he would not be resigning in the few hours he had left of his tenure, also refusing to comment on the decision until after the tribunal’s report had been published.

Furthermore, candidates who campaigned in the 7th week elections will not face a tribunal, Cherwell understands, as the deadline has passed for this term — despite the fact that the tribunal’s decision suggests that candidates who campaigned broke Union rules. 

Although Reynolds was cleared of interfering with the election, the tribunal’s statement does not specifically state that his interpretation of the rules was correct. It is understood that they will release a new interpretation of the rules in due course.

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Reynolds also refused to comment on the decision.

It remains to be seen whether incoming president Lisa Wehden, who could also not be reached, will attempt to push through the rule changes in her tenure next term.