Two presidential candidates were disqualified following allegations of misconduct.
An independent investigation into the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) recent presidential election has been published today.
The investigation was commissioned after complaints were made following the disqualification of two candidates standing for election to become RCN president.
Professor Anne Marie Rafferty CBE (incumbent) and Stuart McKenzie were disqualified for using RCN social media resources to reach out to voting members.
All presidential candidates, with the exception of Yvonne Coghill, were interviewed as part of the investigation, alongside several members of RCN staff and Council.
The 30-page report concludes that Jane Clark, the RCN’s returning officer, did not breach the union’s charter, standing orders, or the election policies but does suggest that a more “consistent approach” may have led to the disqualification of other candidates.
Instead, the report places collective responsibility onto the RCN’s ruling Council for shortcomings in elections policy and processes.
It highlights that the RCN’s definition of a social media resource “is not sufficiently clear” and therefore likely to cause confusion.
Several recommendations are made following the investigation, these include; a revision of the current election policy, setting out a proper process for complaints, and further clarifying the parameters and rules for campaigning.
The report’s author also suggests “taking the role of the Returning Officer away from an appointed member staff to an external, independent body”.
In response to the investigation’s findings, the recently elected Chair of RCN Council Dave Dawes said: “RCN Council commissioned this independent investigation to set out the circumstances which led to the disqualification of candidates in the presidential election. We also recognised the importance of giving all parties the opportunity to set the record straight.
“We take our responsibilities as your elected representatives very seriously and will be analysing the part we played in events. This is the QC’s independent view of what occurred. Publishing this report is part of our continued drive to improve transparency.
“I want to take this opportunity to apologise for the upset and anger some members have felt as a result of our handling of the presidential elections and subsequent complaints.