SNP members will not be able to recall their ballot after calls from one of the leadership contenders, the interim party chief executive has said.

SNP President Michael Russell, who is currently temporarily in the chief executive role after Peter Murrell resigned over the weekend, responded to leadership candidate Ash Regan’s calls for members to be able to change their vote following a row over membership figures.

On Monday, the Edinburgh Eastern MSP’s team put out a statement which said she has put forward “proposals” to Russell that “provide assurance to members with minimum disruption to the election process that we can move ahead constructively on”.

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She highlighted the facility that exists within Mi-Voice – the firm tasked with running the ballot – to allow members who have already chosen their preferred candidate to alter their vote.

Regan also said candidates should be allowed to send one email using the SNP mailing system to members with a “last minute updated message that reflects current events”

However, despite her insistence to make the changes to the process in the final week of the vote, Russell said that it would be “massively disruptive”.

The National: Regan called for members to be allowed to change their voteRegan called for members to be allowed to change their vote

In a statement released on Monday evening, he said: “I have heard from each of the candidates, or their teams, today and I am glad that we are all working together to ensure that there is confidence in the integrity of the current process.

“On the specific issues raised today, it would clearly be massively disruptive and confusing for members to be able to recall their ballot - something that is not done in any public election and which cyber security experts have advised, most recently to the Conservatives when they considered an online ability to change a vote, could be subject to hacking attempts.”

Russell added that the precedent cited by Regan “does not provide any sort of comparison” and said that it would only exist where a candidate had been withdrawn or removed from a contest.

He continued: “On the question of another statement from candidates, the rules and practice governing the ballot were made very clear to the candidates from the beginning and accepted by them when they chose to take part.

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“Of course, the views of all the candidates on internal and external issues pertaining to the contest have been widely shared through nine hustings - most of which were live-streamed - five TV debates and in every media outlet. “It is, frankly, very unlikely that any member could be unaware of the vital matters at stake, the key issues that impact on our country and the party, and the candidates 'views on them.”

Russell added that it was the National Executive Committee (NEC) that set the rules of the contest. He said: “Those rules are clear and we have rightly proceeded on that basis to date.

“We will continue to do so and would therefore hope that this allows all three candidates to focus for the last few days of the campaign on the positive case they can and are making for their leadership bid and of course for independence.”

Regan then responded to Russell's decision by saying she felt the NEC hadn't been able to review her proposal fully. 

She said: "There was an amendment to the normal established timeline as detailed in the SNP constitution for a leadership election - creating an inappropriately short time frame for this selection contest.

"I do not believe the NEC have had the opportunity to review my proposal fully - nor do I understand the problem with allowing members to change their mind, given the revelations of the weekend.

"Allowing members to edit their vote enables the ballot to continue on its current timeline, while solving the outstanding issue for those who are dissatisfied.

"Our membership deserve the process of this election to be the start of transparency and demonstrable probity. However I encourage the members to now demonstrate their will with SNP HQ." 

During a leadership debate on LBC, Regan also claimed that there was a "significant amount of voter regret out there at the moment".