A candidate elected to the Oxford Union’s Secretary’s Committee has been found guilty of electoral malpractice and stripped of his position.
Musty Kamal – who received the most votes in last month’s Secretary’s Committee election – has now been disqualified retrospectively, after a Union tribunal found him guilty of electoral malpractice.
Kamal was found to have breached Rule 33(a)(i) by making an “illicit statement” – one that is “untrue or misleading” and is intended to influence the course of the election.
However, the verdict has provoked controversy. One student present at the tribunal, Stephen Osuobeni, told Cherwell it was “discouraging that a fresher could be strong-armed by a senior committee member in this way”.
Kamal had claimed to champion a more inclusive Union. He finished first in the Secretary’s Committee election of 24th November, beating nearest rival Eric Sukumaran by 40 votes.
But an election tribunal was summoned soon after the close of the poll to hear an allegation of electoral malpractice submitted by Charles Wang, a successful Standing Committee candidate.
The tribunal – chaired by Michaelmas 1999 President Ben Seifert – met on Saturday evening, and unanimously found Kamal guilty of making an “illicit statement”.
An Oxford Union spokesperson confirmed to Cherwell that the statement in question was Kamal’s manifesto claim that he was running as an “independent” candidate.
Screenshots of posts made by Redha Rubaie – unsuccessful candidate for Treasurer – asking people to vote for Kamal, were reportedly brought as evidence.
It is not believed that any evidence was produced showing that Kamal had asked Rubaie to make said posts.
The Society’s rules state that the standard of proof required for a conviction “shall be that the Tribunal is satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt”, necessitating “an unanimous vote”.
Kamal told Cherwell: “This was an election of firsts. I believe that I was the first non-MBA Secretary’s Committee candidate to get as many as 153 votes. This was a higher number of votes than many candidates on Standing Committee. I was also the only candidate to mention inclusivity on my manifesto.
“It is not inconceivable that had my campaign not been so successful, it would not have attracted so much attention nor a tribunal.
“The idea of inclusivity was able to muster 153 people to vote for a candidate that wants everyone to be represented, everyone rather than the closed off elite it is often criticised for protecting.
“This effort by people within the Union to discredit my message will deter people who want to run independently on a platform of inclusivity in the future.”
The Oxford Union has stated that a full report on the ruling will be available shortly to all members.