EDINBURGH, September 25 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – Scottish Police confirmed to RIA Novosti they are reviewing alleged breaches of electoral law after the referendum watchdog body, the Electoral Commission, confirmed it was dealing with a number of complaints of a potentially criminal nature related to the Scottish independence referendum.
"We take the safety and security of the independence referendum seriously," Brenda Irons-Roberts, spokeswoman for Scottish Police told RIA Novosti.
"We are working with partner agencies including local authorities and the Chief Counting Officer to ensure the integrity of the ballot. Any crimes committed will be investigated appropriately," Irons-Roberts added.
The complaints are understood to relate to the casting of postal ballots in the weeks leading up to the Scottish referendum.
Last week, during an interview with the BBC, the Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, appeared to know the general results of the postal votes just 45 minutes after the main polls closed on September 18. Davidson told the BBC she was "incredibly encouraged" by the results of sampling conducted by her campaign's monitors and agents.
Whilst opening sessions of postal ballot boxes ahead of the main count are routine and allowed to be monitored by "campaign agents" it is a criminal offence to communicate any details of how the vote is going to any third parties before the main polls close. Any agents found guilty of doing so can face up to 12 months in prison and a fine of $8,100.
Asked by RIA Novosti whether formal investigations by Police Scotland had begun, Irons-Roberts said, "At this stage the complaints will be assessed. How long that will take depends the nature of the complaint."
Police Scotland confirmed they were investigating at least one case where an individual had been attempting to sell his voting card in an online auction.
The Electoral Commission told RIA Novosti they had not made any assessment themselves on whether a criminal offence, in relation to electoral law, had occurred, insisting this was a matter for the Police to determine.
"We have made no assessment at all," Sarah Mackie, spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission told RIA Novosti.
"It is not our job to make an assessment in terms of alleged breaches of referendum law because we have no locus in investigating that," she added.
The independence referendum, which took place on September 18, saw a turnout of 84.59 percent. Scotland has chosen to stay in the United Kingdom with 44.7 percent of Scots having voted in support of independence and 55.3 percent having voted against.