Questions asked over 'no hits' guidance website

Aled Roberts Aled Roberts insists he did read the website's guidance

He's got the security pass.

He's already sworn the oath.

This morning Aled Roberts will make the journey to Cardiff to sit in his office and reassure himself that he is the new Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for North Wales.

But last night the Electoral Commission made sure his journey won't be an entirely comfortable one. Hours after AMs voted to overturn Mr Roberts' disqualification and reseat him in the assembly, an Electoral Commission officer in Wales told S4C's CF99 programme that they had conducted their own inquiry into visits to the website to check the electoral rules before May's election.

They found, he said, that there'd been "around 143 hits" on the English language guidance they'd published online. On the Welsh guidance? There'd been none.

You'll remember that Mr Roberts was let back into the assembly chamber because he'd been misled after checking the rules in Welsh. The commission admit those rules were out of date and wrong.

Why, asked our reporter Elliw Gwawr, had the commission not said as much to the man who led the independent inquiry into Mr Roberts' case, Gerard Elias QC? They had, he said.

But - and it's a substantial but - the Electoral Commission admit the technology they have to hand can't lead them to claim categorically that no-one clicked on the Welsh language guidance. It's not conclusive and therefore, wasn't reliable information. It's particularly tricky to be sure that no-one visited the site, not directly but via a link sent to them in an email, which is what Mr Roberts explained he had done.

We gather the CPS had said the information simply wouldn't stand up in court and was therefore, not something they would rely on.

We'd heard whispers about the 'zero hits' story (as had some politicians in Cardiff Bay) but when Gerard Elias' report came out, it simply said the commission "is unable to confirm or deny that its website Welsh pages were visited that day." [I've put in the direct quote from the Elias report here now.]

Last night some AMs were asking why the independent report hadn't at least reflected the information given by the Electoral Commission, inconclusive and unreliable as it may be. They're suggesting they would, at the very least, had liked to have known about it and made up their own minds about the weight they might give it.

I won't be in Cardiff Bay on Friday to find out how strong feelings are about this latest twist. I'm spending the next few days working on a short series for Radio Cymru on legal cases that have stirrred strong emotions and that reflected the political climate of their age.

Today I'm off to Monmouthshire to get to grips with the Tarw Scotch - the movement that fought for workers' rights and that certainly shrugged off legal niceties.

UPDATE: Statement by the Electoral Commission:

"The commission apologised on Thursday to the Welsh Assembly and Aled Roberts for the mistakes we made. We fully accept the conclusions of Mr Elias' report and have nothing to add to the statement we have already made.

"On the television programme CF99 last night, the commission gave information about usage of its Welsh language website in response to a specific question from a journalist about visits to our website.

"We provided the website statistics, along with an explanation about them, to Gerard Elias as part of his investigation. As we made clear to Mr Elias we do not believe they are a reliable guide to whether or not individuals used our website and this is reflected in the conclusions in his report."

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  • rate this

    Comment number 133.


    The complaints are against those such as yourselves and the Establishment who resent us speaking our own language.
    Resentment , what are you on about, speak it socially any time you want, who cares?.

    However please stop expecting us to pay for the propganda and politicisation.

    Keep it out of commerce, government and industry.


  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    Re 131


    Oh, other people not as clever as you then? There's lovely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    I did vote, and I will continue to complain. It was the most biased and ill-informed election of all time. Vote 'YES' said the Labour party, the government at the time, the LibDems, Plaid Cymru, the Unions et al. And was the question a simple yes or no? No it wasn't. Some gobbledeygook about 'agreeing with the Govenment plans for an Assembly' which most people did not understand, hence the spoils.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    But if they didn't vote then they can't complain and neither can you.
    Because that was their choice.
    Also you are only surmising tthat the ones who didn't vote would have voted no.
    There are many young people and older ones who are just completely fed up with self serving Politicians and confuse Westminster and Wales elections..
    It doesn't mean they are against the system

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    126. No argument knocked at all. You are not comparing like with like. One was for national government - as in Great Britain - the other for some super-regional council at enormous expense.

    Jobs for the boyo's and girlio's - nothing more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    re109-selling water? more like holding england to ransom.If english regions can supply their own water then good luck to them when independence comes but what are the odds of the incompetences at westmister having all these resevoirs in place?knowing how efficient the english government is then never will be the answer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    the problem with the majority of the welsh is they are a whipped people.they lack any sort of confidence of going it alone.the welsh have a massive inferiority complex when it comes to the english.I'm in the minority when I say I don't hate the english.Most welsh,in private will tell you what they really think of their succesful neighbours.It's pitiful,just like the majority of welsh

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    The same as Wales voted Labour for Westminster, but we got a ConDem Government.

    The top end of the Neath Valley have a Plaid Cymru Council and Councilors on the Authority but they have to accept a Labour controled Neath Port Talbot Council.

    Knocks your argument a bit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    alfsplace & Cythraul. The reality is 75% of the electorate did not support the setting up of an Assembly. Cardiff & Vale of Glamorgan both had 'NO' majorities well in excess of 10,000. There were over 400 spoiled votes in Cardiff alone - multiply that by 22 constituencies and the paltry 'national' majority of 6,000 is more than wiped out.

    As I say - no appetite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    I'm sure the majority of Welsh people will come to understand and embrace that philosophy, even if they don't grasp it at present.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    They seem to think that a national community that's existed for 1,500 years can be legitimately swept aside by a larger, more powerful neighbouring national community, and that in the name of some spurious "unity". How many marriages are created on that basis, never mind last?! A more realistic perspective is that nations have to accept each other, which in democratic terms means self-government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    If the vast majority of Welsh people have no appetite for a Welsh Government, for a Wales that decides it's own priorities, controls it's own resources, educates it's young about it's own history and is working to ensures a vibrant native language and culture, then where are they? It's just the usual handful of suspects posting on here, moaning about every initiative to strengthen our country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.


    Hum, but there is an Assembly in Wales. Haven't you heard, or has your head been too far into the ground to know what is going on around you.

    There is an appetite, the acceptance had a good majority.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    They are LibDems. In Wales, not in Government. Does it matter?

    I didn't think I would learn of a website that had less hits than the All Wales Convention (who they?) - but this one obviously runs pretty close.

    No appetite, No assembly. Simple really.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.


    Honestly some of the comments on here.
    You really believe we have the infrastructure in Wales to be able to cope with that.

    We haven't got enough water for ourselves to start with as it is already going to England

    We can't cope with the English and Eastern European migration, without you wanting to bring more.

    I think you are being tongue in cheek as well are'nt you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    114 "I believe there is a water shortage in the south because it is over populated"

    Interesting comment Alf. If we can't get the water to the people, let's bring the people to the water!

    Mass immigration to the Fro Cymraeg is the obvious answer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    My point wasn't about being victims but about your fact that there is an abundance of water in other regions of England. Though as you state there is a problem in supplies from Wales with rivers drying up but not from the North of England.

    So it was a rather tongue in cheek comment from me about running the water down hill.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    Then I suppose you could use that same argument on teaching children in school 'Queens English' as some like to call it and Shakespeare and all the other oh so English authors and Poets. The way it is going even the English language as we know it, may suffer the same fate as Latin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Add your comment...That is because the reservoirs were built at a time when there was a unified country call Great Britain and funded by British tax payers for the greater good. Stop playing the victim card Alf, all the regions of Britain can sing a sad song about past events.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Then why are Liverpool,Birmingham etc taking their water from Wales.
    They could run it down hill to them.

    I believe there is a water shortage in the south because it is over populated.

    I think it has been said in an earlier blog by an engineer, that conecting pipelines couldn't be done because of the differing types of water quality from different strata in different parts of the country.


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