THE Crown Office is considering taking legal action against pro-Union campaigners who allegedly broke election laws during last year’s referendum.

Police Scotland began investigating after Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson claimed on live TV, 45 minutes after polls closed, that the pro-Union side had been “incredibly encouraged” by results of what she called a “sample opening” of the postal ballot.

Police were instructed to launch an official probe after complaints were received following Davidson’s comments that postal vote “tallies” were being taken in the weeks before the referendum ballot closed at 10pm on September 18.

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Now the police have passed “information” to the Crown having concluded their year-long probe into claims Unionists breached electoral secrecy laws during the Scottish independence referendum.

Davidson has been interviewed by police twice in relation to Schedule 7 paragraph 7 of the referendum legislation which states that “every person attending the proceedings in connection with the issue or the receipt of ballot papers for persons voting by post in the referendum must maintain and aid in maintaining the secrecy of voting in the referendum and must not attempt to ascertain at the proceedings in connection with the receipt of the ballot papers the outcome for which any vote is given in any particular ballot paper or communicate any information with respect thereto obtained at those proceedings”.

A breach of that rule is an offence punishable by a fine of up to £5,000 and/or up to 12 months’ imprisonment.

Glasgow University law professor James Chalmers said: “Ruth Davidson was not a ‘person attending the proceedings’ so it seems unlikely she could be accused of any offence.

“The police report is likely to be concerned only with the person or persons present at the postal votes being opened who passed that information on to her.”

He said the police cannot force Davidson to divulge details of her informants.

Chalmers said: “If she is called as a witness in court she would have no reason to refuse to give evidence but she could not be forced as part of a police investigation to give the information over.”

At the time, Davidson told BBC’s Scotland Decides programme: “We have had people at every sample opening around the country over the last few weeks while that’s been coming in and we have been incredibly encouraged by the results from that.

“Going into today, from the postal votes that were cast, our side would have had a lead and I think that we have a confidence, I hope a quiet confidence, that the quiet majority of Scots have spoken today.”

She continued: “Different local authorities have had openings around the country. It is illegal to discuss that while any ballot is ongoing, so until 10 o’clock tonight no one could talk about it. But there are people in the room that have been sampling those ballot boxes as they have been opened and they have been taking tallies and the reports have been very positive for us.”

A Crown Office spokesperson said: “The Crown Office has received information regarding the investigation carried out by Police Scotland and will consider if further action is necessary.”