SCOTLAND’S first ever recall petition for a sitting MP opened on Tuesday morning – but you may notice an absence of detail in some of the reporting on the issue.

That’s due to an electoral law which prevents certain things from being communicated – and it applies to everyone, not just media outlets.

Here is everything you need to know about the recall petition, and what can and can’t be said about it.

What is the recall petition?

The National: The formerly SNP MP Margaret Ferrier has been suspended from the Commons for 30 days

Margaret Ferrier (above), the former SNP MP, is facing a recall petition after MPs voted to approve a 30-day suspension from the Commons as punishment for travelling from London to Scotland while knowingly positive for Covid-19.

Ferrier may be removed as an MP if 10% of her constituents sign the petition, which opened on June 20.

The petition will run until July 31 – a six-week window. If some 8113 people out of the 81,124 voters in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency sign, then a by-election will be triggered.

Any election is expected to be a tight race between the SNP – who will field councillor Katy Loudon as a candidate – and Labour, who have nominated Michael Shanks.

What can and can’t be reported about the recall petition?

While the petition is open, electoral law prevents any reports on the number of people who have turned out at signing stations.

It also prevents any statement being made about whether an individual has or has not signed the petition.

And there is also a ban on forecasting the outcome of the petition – if that forecast is “based on information” about who or how many people may have signed it.

These rules apply not just to the media, but to “anyone”, the Electoral Commission has warned.

READ MORE: BBC presenter called out for 'unbelievable' Margaret Ferrier error

In guidance, the commission stated: “Electoral law prevents the publication of any statement that could indicate if an individual has signed the petition or not; any forecasts on the result of the petition; and the publication of exit polls before the end of the final day of the signing period.

“Anyone who makes any statement on turnout or about individuals who sign the petition would be guilty of an offence.”

What is the punishment for breaking the rules?

According to the regulations published alongside the 2015 Recall of MPs Act – under which the petition is being run – a breach of the reporting rules is punishable by “a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months”.

The National: Ian Paisley

In previous recall petitions elsewhere, there have been police proceedings around similar offences.

In 2018, the DUP MP for North Antrim, Ian Paisley (above), survived the first recall petition ever run – but his party reported two opposition politicians to the police for alleged rule breaches.

Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan and TUV councillor Timothy Gaston were both subjects of reports sent to the Public Prosecution Service.

Gaston had revealed on social media that he had signed the petition, and McGuigan had posted a video in which he reported that its outcome was “on a knife edge”.

UK voter ID laws

The Conservatives' voter ID laws – which require a person to have a defined type of ID or risk being turned away from the polling station – apply to the recall petition.

A person will only be allowed to sign the petition if they can first show an acceptable form of ID. These include a driving licence or a provisional driving licence, a blue badge, a Commonwealth passport, an older or disabled person’s bus pass, an Oyster 60+ card, a Scottish National Entitlement Card, or a Ministry of Defence Identity card.

A full list can be found here.