A senior Tory councillor who used an anonymous troll account to secretly coach members of the public to “tactically vote” for him in May’s Scottish Parliament election could face a police probe over his actions.
Braden Davy, who stood for the party in Angus North and Mearns, has quit as economic development spokesman on Angus Council and resigned from the ruling group after being told to step down at a meeting of senior councillors on Thursday afternoon.
It comes after Mr Davy confessed to running the Angus Against the SNP Facebook page – his involvement in which was uncovered by our investigation – in a bid to take aim at his political rivals and secure anti-independence votes.
Derek Wann, who serves as children and learning convener, has also been asked to quit his role by the administration group after we revealed how he was behind another anti-SNP troll account, named after Lady Whistledown on the Netflix series Bridgerton.
Mr Wann, who campaigns against online bullying, used the account to anonymously post disparaging comments about the appearance of prominent female politicians, mock Dundee’s tragic record on drug deaths and argue with members of the public who challenged him as a councillor.
Both members were asked to step down from their roles but only Mr Davy has so far confirmed he will also resign from the administration, with council leader David Fairweather telling both he had hoped they would stay on in the ruling group.
The Scottish Government introduced new rules at May’s Holyrood election that mean all digital election campaign material in Scotland – paid or unpaid – must carry an “imprint” stating who is promoting it and who they are promoting it for.
When the campaign material is being used to promote a candidate, rather than a party or campaigner, the responsibility for enforcing the rules falls to Police Scotland, rather than the Electoral Commission.
We revealed how in a post on April 15 titled “tactical voting alert”, Mr Davy told members of the public in Angus North and Mearns they should “act together” to vote for him and oust SNP minister Mairi Gougeon.
“If we all act together we can vote her out,” he wrote. “Tactically vote with your constituency ballot for Braden Davy to stop the SNP.”
In a further update on April 18 he told people living in Angus South to vote for his Conservative colleague Maurice Golden to defeat SNP minister Graeme Dey but again made no reference to who was really running the page.
The posts mean Mr Davy may have fallen foul of electoral law and with other updates on the page appearing to promote the Scottish Conservatives during the election campaign, he could now face questions from both police and election officials.
Police Scotland have been approached for comment on what could be the first case of its kind under the new electoral rules.
Following a meeting of the Angus Council administration ruling group at 3pm on Thursday, council leader David Fairweather confirmed he had asked Mr Davy and Mr Wann to step down from their roles.
He said: “The leader and the administration have met today and asked councillor Wann to step down as convener of children and learning and councillor Davy to step down as economic development spokesperson.
“We have asked them to stand down from those positions and we have given them both until Monday, July 5 to respond.”
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Mr Fairweather confirmed it is his “wish and want” for both councillors to stay on as part of the administration group and said that is why they had been given extra time to make their decisions.
However, Mr Davy said he had been “uncomfortable” with the administration’s decision making “for some time”, particularly around Richard Moore – the disgraced former administration member who was welcomed back despite being suspended for inappropriate behaviour towards four women.
“I haven’t taken part in administration meetings for that reason since, and have decided to stand down from the group,” Mr Davy said.
“I will continue to represent the people of Forfar.”
The announcement came as some shock to Mr Fairweather shortly after 5pm on Thursday, who said he had just spoken to Mr Davy and was under the impression he would be continuing in the administration group.
The beleaguered council leader also confirmed for the first time he was “absolutely not” aware that Derek Wann was behind the Lady Whistledown account, despite following it and regularly being tagged in its posts.
Derek Wann was approached for comment.