Police Scotland has been “asked to consider” the social media activity of a senior Conservative 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.
Braden Davy, who stood for the party in Angus North and Mearns, quit as economic development spokesman on Angus Council and resigned from the ruling group on Thursday following a meeting of administration members.
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.
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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 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.
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.
A spokesman for Police Scotland confirmed officers are now looking into the matter but inquiries remain at an early stage.
The spokesman said: “We can confirm officers have been asked to consider the circumstances relating to online activity on a social media account.
“This is ongoing and at an early stage.”
We unmasked @BradenDavy and @anguscampaigner as the people behind two anti-SNP troll accounts. Hear how we did it, what it means for the embattled council, and what might happen next, on a special episode with @C_DHealey and @C_GBrown1 – out Saturday.
— The Stooshie – the politics podcast from Scotland (@stooshiescot) July 1, 2021
Mr Davy stepped down from the ruling group on Angus Council on Thursday, saying 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.”
He did not respond to a request for comment on potentially opening himself up to police action through his actions on the troll account.