Sam O’Flaherty Pulls Out of Presidential Race

Impact has learnt that Presidential Candidate Sam O’Flaherty has pulled out of the race for the position of Students’ Union President, after “a number of grievances” (formal candidate complaints, formerly known as representations) were filed against him during campaigning.

The grievances were filed in the opening days of the campaign, though Elections Committee waited until yesterday, wanting to give “careful consideration of the evidence”, before deciding that O’Flaherty had gained “considerable unfair advantage” over the other candidates running for the position. After being approached by Elections Committee on the 2nd March over the grievances, O’Flaherty subsequently withdrew his candidacy for the position.

In an official statement, Returning Officer Will Burks said, “Elections Committee regret any candidate’s withdrawal from the Elections. [We] would like to note that Sam has made significant contributions to the Students’ Union in his time at University and hope he continues to do so”.

This is the third year in a row that a Presidential candidate has either been forced out or withdrawn as a result of grievances filed against them, following the expulsion of James Phillips last year and that of Henry Blanchard the year before. Sam becomes the third candidate in two years who has resigned as as a result of the Elections diciplinary process.

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50 Comments on this post.
  • SU Observer
    3 March 2011 at 13:26
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    Don’t forget Blanch…another Karni Director who was running for President and got kicked off the year before Jimmie Phillips.

  • trapped in hallward
    3 March 2011 at 13:47
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    Swift coverage, well done Impact. Shame to see Samo pull out but guess it will teach others to play by the rules.

  • student
    3 March 2011 at 14:05
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    what are the “considerable unfair advantages” that he had over the other candidates?

  • Sam O’FellFlatOnHisFace-erty
    3 March 2011 at 14:17
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    Surely now it’s a one-horse race?

    • Rich
      4 March 2011 at 13:25
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      What? Did somebody mention RACE?

  • Charlie Sheen
    3 March 2011 at 14:41
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    Obviously not a WINNER…. Im Winning…. I have Tiger Blood

  • Anonymous
    3 March 2011 at 15:09
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    I’m not sure how you can comment on playing by the ‘rules’ when there has been no explanation as to what he has supposedly done wrong.
    How can a committee, which is unanswerable to any body or person, be allowed to make these decisions without giving the so-called ‘offender’ the opportunity, or even right, to defend himself?

  • Alec Baldwin
    3 March 2011 at 15:27
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    Elections Committee is answerable to Union Council. SamO has stepped down, he wasn’t kicked out. Subsequently there is no need for him to defend himself. fool.

  • lash captain
    3 March 2011 at 15:28
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    i wish we could go back to the old days when just because someone was in karni they didnt get slated by everyone in impact.

  • David
    3 March 2011 at 15:42
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    @Anonymous – While there’s every chance that the situation may have been a ‘resign, or we’ll kick you out’ one, it should be kept in mind that the story states that Samo pulled out from the race, not that Elections Committee kicked him out.

    I think it’s a hard story to comment on full stop, as there’s no detail in what actually led to what complaints of evidence that there actually was. But similarly, there’s no way of knowing if the ‘offender’ argued his position or not. All we know is the outcome.

    As for them being unanswerable to anybody, given that one of the decisions that Elections Committee made last year was overturned on appeal, leading to a by-election, they are certainly not left entirely unchecked. We might not get to hear the full story, but I’d argue that the committee hardly have the power to play ‘kingmaker’.

  • Samo fan
    3 March 2011 at 16:57
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    @lash captain, they havent slated him in the slightest, they’ve just quoted Elections Committee and stated the facts of whats happened!
    Next time actually read the article before complaining!

  • Anonymous
    3 March 2011 at 17:16
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    It is just outrageous that fair treatment of the candidates has been overuled by personal bias. Surely the most important factor is to elect an honest, reliable person who is able to do the best job possible and in order to have a neutral decision making body, which has clearly not happened in previous years. The committee has abused its power and, in doing so, has forced arguably the strongest candidate out of the elections.

    Surely it would be in everyones interest to elect the strongest committee possible. Perhaps rather than investigating a single individual, the current committee should have fairly and equally investigated the campaigns of all candidates.

    3 March 2011 at 17:31
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    again the people’s president has been kicked out for vague wrong-doings by the su who are just fun haters. Jimmie Phillips 4eva

    EQ question mark?

  • David Rees
    3 March 2011 at 18:26
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    “It is just outrageous that fair treatment of the candidates has been overuled by personal bias”

    What do you mean by this, there are people on that board are friends of Samo, I can assure you this has nothing to do with personal bias. This is not the outcome any of them would have hoped for.

  • Frank
    3 March 2011 at 18:33
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    If any of the presidential candidates has received unfair advantage, it is Charlie Sheen – he has recently had international media coverage.

  • Lad
    3 March 2011 at 19:04
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  • Fomer Returning Officer
    3 March 2011 at 19:25
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    I’d just like to point a few things out to anyone that doesn’t know.

    1) Candidates who have had grievances filed against them are encouraged to defend themselves against them. Not only are they allowed to do so at the time the grievance is received by the Committee, but also, if it were to come to it, when the Committee has to make a decision about removing a candidate from the election (this is a very in depth discussion.)
    2) Candidates who have been removed have the right to appeal, if they so wish, to the Select Committee for Electoral Disputes. If successful, the most likely outcome is a by-election, with all candidates reinstated.
    3) Any member of Elections Committee who has a bias, either towards or against a candidate, generally does not take part in big decisions about that candidate.
    4) Elections Committee, by it’s very nature, needs to be confidential. This is as much to protect the candidates as the Union.
    5) @Anonymous: “The committee has abused its power and, in doing so, has forced arguably the strongest candidate out of the elections.”

    This is complete nonsense. First of all, all candidates are treated equally by Elections Committee, regardless of whether they are ‘arguably the strongest’ or not. Elections Committee’s job is to investigate when they receive grievances when they receive them and act accordingly. They were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing. Furthermore, nowhere does it say that the committee kicked him out anyway. I find it very amusing that this comment has been made, since for all my time involved in the Union, Elections Committee has been accused of having ‘no bite.’

  • su4life
    3 March 2011 at 19:32
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    I really don’t think jimmy Phillips was serious – his friends entered him for a bet- behind the game impact…

  • Jake
    3 March 2011 at 19:45
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    A disgraceful showing from the elections committee where personal creativity and ability has been stifled for mediocre democracy. It would appear the easier route for candidates is to file for a “representation” as opposed to doing something about it themselves, get a bigger team, shout a little louder.

    We have lost a candidate who undoubtably dragged the quality of the elections up ironically making it increasingly difficult to “Believe In Better” for our Student’s Union.

    Very dissapointing.

  • Matt
    3 March 2011 at 20:01
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    @ Jake. Filing a representation isn’t about ‘ease’ it’s about ensuring that all candidates adhere to the same rules so that campaigns are fought fairly. Imagine a situation where candidates took everything they deemed ‘unfair’ into their own hands, completely unworkable and complete anarchy!

  • Rob
    3 March 2011 at 21:16
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    You are all Lizards! Death to you all!

  • Anon
    3 March 2011 at 21:43
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    I vote we start a RoN campaign

    • dan
      3 March 2011 at 23:01
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      I remember creating a RoN campaign as an undergraduate. Father Ron was our character and yeha we won, only to be kicked off for irregularities, the chief one being we didn’t want the job. But it was a lot of fun making the ditties and the posters as well as writing and performing the speeches and generally being hugely self-indulgent.

  • Spamo
    3 March 2011 at 21:49
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    @Jake: Your comment is complete rubbish. ‘Personal creativity and ability’ doesn’t work as a synonym for cheating. And I don’t believe that the outcome of this is mediocre whatsoever.

    Also, to reiterate other comments, he pulled out, so it wasn’t a ‘disgraceful showing from elections committee’.

    And to second Matt’s comment, filing a representation isn’t ‘the easier route’, it’s the due process for when another candidate is cheating. Would you prefer to see an election that just descended into anarchy with all the candidates just trying to ‘out-cheat’ each other?

    You also seem to completely misunderstand what should win elections. It shouldn’t be about getting a ‘bigger team’ or shouting ‘a little louder’. It should be about policies, and personality. All too often however, this isn’t the case. Fortunately here, due to the elections rules, and grievances being filed, the election hasn’t been won by cheating, and hopefully now the electorate will have the opportunity to assess the remaining candidates based on their policies.

    Lastly, how you can argue that a candidate who cheated repeatedly ‘undoubtedly dragged the quality of the elections up’ is beyond me.

    • Anon
      4 March 2011 at 11:14
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      Vote RoN to support anyone who you wanted to vote for but was forced to step down. I believe their is going to be a protest for anyone wishing to show their support on Monday.

  • Frank
    3 March 2011 at 22:03
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    So, as well as posting anonymous comments here, we’ll all be at the candidate question time at 3pm tomorrow (Friday) in the portland building. Agreed?

  • vote RoN!
    4 March 2011 at 01:19
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    I am ashamed to be part of such an undemocratic student union. Samos campaign was a strong one, the best one. His competition were sly and decided to file ‘greivanves’ and consequently he’s made to step down, how is that fair?! Ultimatetly, students need the strongest candidate for the job, not some sly backstabber. Also, ‘considerable unfair advantages’, having the right contacts for the best campaign is surely what everyone wants in a president and in respect to ‘cheating’ from forward planning, complete rubbish, its a job, of course every candidate tells people they are considering running before campaigning can start. If anyones cheated its corcky from having the same logo as when he was running for su delegate resulting in unfair advantages. I vote RoN.

  • Ron
    4 March 2011 at 10:13
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    I think it’s such a shame that someone who demonstrated every quality we could be proud to have as an SU president has been forced out of the race. There seems to be a unnecessary dislike around elections towards karni candidates- why should Samo, or any other be accused of cheating for having a wide base of supporters. in every election in every country there is particular trends in voting- and when we scale this down we get drama people voting for the new theatre, or maybe the president of law soc gathering up the lawyers. It isnt an unfair advantage, and the use of the term cheating implies a concious effort to ignore the rules which Samo most certainly didnt do. its diabolical that the person most qualified, the person working hard to drum up the most support (us students arent exactly easy to infuse) and the person with a well organsied campaign has been put through this.

  • Mark
    4 March 2011 at 10:43
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    Filing ‘greivances’ is not sly – if someone is breaking the election rules then they should be reported and appropriate action taken. It is the only way to ensure that candidates are sticking to the rules.

    @vote RoN! – if you feel that ‘corcky’ has cheated then report him to elections committee.

  • Anonymous
    4 March 2011 at 10:57
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    As a general point not regarding SamO specifically it is quite clear that the campaigning is flawed because of the ‘grievances’ system. One simply has to stand and talk to the candidates standing outside Hallward to hear that they are all looking out for offences caused by the others.
    Indeed, I heard that one candidate actively went round campus taking photos of a competitor’s campaign to ensure any infringements were found

    Those running for office should be concerned with their own campaign and there should be a body who is responsible for the discovery of infringements rather than the candidates themselves.

    It appears that those candidates who rightly only concentrate on their own campaign are at a disadvantage.

    • Mark
      4 March 2011 at 11:35
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      @Anonymous – again I will repeat the point that the rules are there to be kept to… all candidates are aware of them and if they break them, for example if a candiate put their poster up over anothers then it is right that a ‘grievance’ should be filed.

      It would be impossible for elections committee to go and inspect every single one of the hundreds of noticeboards on the campus, and therefore the system relies on both candidates sticking to the rules, and if any candidate is observed breaking the rules that it is reported and any action taken if necessary!

  • David
    4 March 2011 at 11:38
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    @Anonymous – While I don’t think the idea of a body responsible for such things is the worst idea in the world, I think from a practical point of view it would be something that would ask more students to give a bunch of time up during the elections period, and find people who are willing to do that who aren’t already either standing for a position, on a campaign team, or on Elections Committee could be tough. It also wouldn’t escape any accusations of bias that seem to float around whenever action ends up being taken that happen now. It’s any idea that should maybe be thought about though, although it may fall under the remit of Elections Committee already (and if not, I imagine that’s where such a task would be assigned).

    But I certainly agree that candidates/teams should campaign to win things on their own merit, and not by deliberately looking for infringements by others. That said, those running are under (self-imposed) pressure to do well, so I think some sense of paranoia about what their opponents might be getting up to is understandable, even if it isn’t desirable.

    Of course, one radical solution would be for the candidates not to cheat in the first place, however minor some infringements might be, but even optimism has limits!

  • Lawrence Blackmore
    4 March 2011 at 12:09
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    In my opinion that under the current circumstances there is now no candidate who is suitable for S.U President of the caliber, that we as the students here we deserve.

    There are people at this University who have chosen not to run for President who would be exceptional candidates who, if given the opportunity, would lead us to a better future at Nottingham University.

    This Monday I shall be wearing suitably coloured attire to show my support for voting RON. Come to Portland a colour that you think is suitable and lets make this point together.

    This needs to happen, and Monday we can prove it as students. Be there between your lectures and make sure that your opinion is shown in the numbers that will come.

  • Alex Corck-Adelman
    4 March 2011 at 12:12
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    @vote RoN – I take real issue with being called a ‘sly backstabber’. That’s as far as I’m going to get involved in this discussion, as anything I say will be ignored by the anonymous people calling for a vote RoN campaign because of who I am. Come down to the candidate question time today, 3pm Su Hub and speak your mind

  • Davey
    4 March 2011 at 12:18
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    How is Samo the people’s favourite? I mean obviously its not Ngoc, but Corcky??

    If Samo, thought he was in the right then he wouldn’t have stepped down. I’m not at liberty to divulge what he did, but trust me, he was in the wrong, and he knew it

  • Sarah
    4 March 2011 at 12:20
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    You are all absolute plebians. Completely ignorant to the fact that HE SETPPED DOWN. You make it sound like he was forced out in a cunning scheme to make sure that he didn’t get the SU bid. What a joke. He knew that he cheated. End of

    • Anonymous
      4 March 2011 at 13:09
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      Sarah I believe SamO is going on URN this afternoon. I think you will find that there is more to this than SamO just stepping down. I am under the impression he was given no choice and ‘jumped before he was pushed’.

      • Former Returning Officer
        8 March 2011 at 03:34
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        SamO knew he was cheating, lets not be naive about it. The rules are clearly written and the candidates are frequently briefed on what they can and can’t do. Not only that, but elections committee encourage candidates to ask questions if they are unsure of any campaigning technique. If anything this discussion does highlight problems with the Students’ Union, but not necessarily the ones being discussed. Perhaps a more informed electorate is a policy SamO should have championed, then maybe this RoN situation may not have arisen.

  • Sarah
    4 March 2011 at 12:24
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    Also, VoteRon, your argument about Alex being at an unfair advantage for using the same logo in the SU elections. This is one of the most ridiculous comments I have ever read and shows you to be the fool that you clearly are.

  • David Rees
    4 March 2011 at 13:46
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    The argument that this is somehow an anti karni campaign is completely flawed. Two people on the committee are previous karni exec, they would not have wanted this. The idea it is a personal attack on samO is again completely out of line, he is well liked within the union because he is a nice guy. However just because he is a nice guy and would have potentially been very good is not reason enough to allow rules to be bent and broken. The elections committee were doing their job, and they did it well. The rules I’n place are there for equality, to allow any student to have a chance to run for SU prez, to not make it that whoever ran the largest SRS will automatically win because of the networks they have built up. I was karni director the year before Samo, I’m friends with him. I would have loved him to become prez but he ruined it for himself. You can be as creative as you want with your campaigning as long as you do not breach the rules.

    A shame for Samo, I think he would have won it. But well done elections committee, they did their job despite knowing the flack try were going to get for it. That’s the kind of students I am proud to be within our SU

    • Eddie Richardson
      4 March 2011 at 14:24
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      David, I agree that there is no case of anti-Karni bias here. I was on the Karnival Exec with Sam and I doubt that those on the elections committee would go out of their way to make his campaign difficult.

      However, there are problems here that need to be addressed in time for the next round of elections. To have three presidential candidates in a row removed demonstrates a flaw in the process. I understand that the rules of elections are perhaps as not as clear as they could be – perhaps for next year these need to explicit so that the elections committee do not have such a tough subjective decision. I feel sorry for the Elections Committee as they have in many ways a no-win situation here. A presidential candidate is almost invariably going to have a wide support base before they start, and I can’t help but worry that this may be a hindrance rather than a help in terms of keeping within the rules. Perhaps this needs to be looked at for next year so that all potentially strong candidates are more likely to be standing when voting actually starts.

      From a personal point of view I know Sam very well. I believe I have a fairly good understanding of the ‘grievances’ against him. I will not speculate my own personal opinion about the decision because I think it would be better if the Elections committee or SamO revealed the details and people made up their own mind if they saw fit. What I would say is that SamO is universally liked within the SU for good reason; he is an honest individual who takes great pride in his integrity. Perhaps it would be nicer if those who do not understand the nature of the issue here do not drag his name through the mud.

      In addition I urge people not to vote RON out of spite. If people do not believe in the qualities of the remaining two then by all means do, but otherwise I think there is not much to be gained by not voting for who you think would do a better job as president.

  • Michael
    4 March 2011 at 15:01
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    @ Eddie Richardson ‘To have three presidential candidates in a row removed demonstrates a flaw in the process.’ No it doesn’t. Not in the slightest. What it demonstrates is that the elections (especially for president) are competitive and candidates often get wary/desperate and do things that they know they are not meant to do. Let’s just say 2 more players get tested positive for drugs (like Kolo Toure), does that mean there is a flaw in the process? No. It means players are pushing themselves and bending the rules, just like Samo and many before him have done.

  • Charlie Sheen
    4 March 2011 at 16:56
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    Who is this RON character? Sounds like a …. Vote for me im winning!

  • Jack
    5 March 2011 at 15:05
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    I think an overwhelming vote for RON wouldn’t hinder the future of Nottingham, but may bring to light the fact that the students of Nottingham Democratic system aren’t quite happy with the process as it is and the elections committee should make a marked effort to find out what these issues are and address them, be it more clarity in the rules of campaigning or a faster appeals committee, maybe this is something that one of the remaining candidates should be suggesting that they will carry out if they are elected? Its a shame because we have lost an extremely liked and tallented candidate who would have done an extremely good job if elected, pushing towards a better future. I Believed SamO was better….

  • Anonymous
    6 March 2011 at 19:13
    Leave a Reply

    Sarah says:
    @ Sarah

    “March 4, 2011 at 12:20

    You are all absolute plebians. Completely ignorant to the fact that HE SETPPED DOWN. You make it sound like he was forced out in a cunning scheme to make sure that he didn’t get the SU bid. What a joke. He knew that he cheated. End of”

    I think you will find that there was a lot of force behind the decision made. And he didn’t know that he had cheated….any broken rules were done so with absolutely no bad intention. So maybe you’re the one being ignorant?

  • Wen Jie ( Ex- Dem Comms Officer)
    8 March 2011 at 15:07
    Leave a Reply

    Sadly the role of elections committee is to remove any potential unfair bias towards a candidate in the election unintentional or intentional. This is why even though in the past people have unknowingly broken rules or not even broken rules but have done things which massively effected the election they have been taken into consideration.

    The fact remains that it is a moot point he stepped down and was not kicked out, if he felt he had been wronged he could appeal any decision elections committee made to remove him from the election anyways and that would go to a totally separate body to decide on!

    It remains as a warning to other candidates though that if you think anything is even borderline and your uncertain if you should be doing something you can always and SHOULD always check with elections commiteee first. That way you don’t get pulled up on it!

  • Jason
    10 March 2011 at 11:36
    Leave a Reply

    Why is it that the actual details of the actions considered to be “cheating” never get revealed in these cases?

    I don’t think there was a bias against Karni, a few years ago it seemed that the presidential position was almost garunteed to go to “the Karni candidate”.

    Having campaigned myself I know the difficulties of ensuring your campaign team stick to the rules. Just because you know what you are not allowed to do doesn’t mean people acting on your behalf do. This is especially important with the candidates who are more well known before campaigning starts as they often get people

    In the end he chose to step down himself. If it was a case of “jumping before he was pushed” then he should have been willing to fight for his cause. The fact he didn’t suggests to me that either he agreed he had broken the rules or that he wasnt willing to fight it. If he wasn’t willing to fight for himself, how could we expect him to fight for our views as president?

  • David Rees
    10 March 2011 at 13:34
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    “Why is it that the actual details of the actions considered to be “cheating” never get revealed in these cases?”

    If a candidate steps down then the elections committee are not allowed to reveal any details on what rules were broken, a confidentiality agreement. If they are removed by the committee then the committee has to reveal the reasons why and this can then be appealed.

    Hope that clears things up.

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