The Labour Party has been fined £20,000 ($24,450) for breaching spending rules during the 2015 general election campaign — the largest fine ever dished out to a British political party.
The Electoral Commission, the body which regulates the electoral system, announced on Tuesday morning that Labour under Ed Miliband failed to disclose 74 payments totalling £123,748 and 33 invoices totalling £34,392.
The Commissiond decided to launch an investigation into Labour’s spending after it realised two payments totalling £7,614 were absent from the party’s campaign spending records.
The payments related to a stone tablet, according to the Commission, which turned out to be the 8-foot-6 plinth Miliband famously unveiled in the constituency of Hastings and Rye as part of his election campaign.
Erected in a Hastings car park, the massive stone tablet, known as the “Ed Stone,” was engraved with six pledges Miliband promised to follow through if elected prime minister.
Inevitably, it is now remembered as a symbol of Labour’s disastrous 2015 performance, where David Cameron’s Tories defied the polls to claim a majority victory.
The regulatory body added that Ian McNicol, the party’s registered treasurer at the time, committed two civil offences by failing to provide a complete spending return. McNicol did not commit criminal offences.
Bob Posner, director of party and election finance at the Electoral Commission, said on Tuesday: “The Labour Party is a well-established, experienced party. Rules on reporting campaign spending have been in place for over 15 years and it is vital that the larger parties comply with these rules and report their finances accurately if voters are to have confidence in the system.”
In an email to Business Insider, a Labour Party spokesperson said: “Labour has co-operated fully with the Electoral Commission during its investigation into General Election 2015 campaign spending by political parties.
“The Commission’s investigation found that internal procedural errors led to a relatively small number of items of expenditure not being declared properly. The party regrets these administrative errors. However, these amounted to just over one per cent of our total spending of over £12 million during this election.”
“We accept the findings of the report and have already tightened our internal recording procedures to address the Commission’s concerns.”
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