- The Official Brexit campaign has been found to have committed “serious breaches” of electoral law.
- Vote Leave overspent by almost half a million pound due to funelling money to a connected campaign group.
- The Electoral Commission fine the two groups over £80,000 and refer Vote Leave and Beleave camapigner Darren Grimes to the Metropolitan Police.
- The Commssion say the campaigns refused to co-operate with their investigations.
LONDON – The official Brexit campaign has been referred to the Metropolitan Police after being found to have committed “serious breaches” of electoral law.
The Electoral Commission found that Vote Leave, fronted by the current Education Secretary Michael Gove and the former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, broke strict spending limits during the EU referendum.
The Commission’s investigation “found significant evidence of joint working between the lead campaigner, Vote Leave and another campaign group BeLeave,” a spokesperson for the commission said.
They found that Vote Leave exceeded the legal spending limit of £7 million by almost £500,000 by funelling money to the connected BeLeave campaign, headed by the campaigner Darren Grimes.
BeLeave “spent more than £675,000 with Aggregate IQ under a common plan with Vote Leave,” the commission found.
The commission have fined Vote Leave £61,000 and the BeLeave campaign £20,000.
The commission also found that:
- All Mr Grimes’ and BeLeave’s spending on referendum campaigning was incurred under a common plan with Vote Leave. Vote Leave should have declared the amount of joint spending in its referendum spending return and therefore failed to deliver a complete campaign spending return.
- Vote Leave’s referendum spending was £7,449,079.34, exceeding its statutory spending limit of £7 million.
- Vote Leave’s spending return was inaccurate in respect of 43 items of spending, totalling £236,501.44. Eight payments of over £200 in Vote Leave’s return did not have an invoice or receipt with them. These payments came to £12,849.99.
- As an unregistered campaigner, BeLeave exceeded its spending limit of £10,000 by more than £666,000.
In a statement the commission said that David Halsall from the Vote Leave campaign and Darren Grimes would now be referred to the Metropolitan Police.
“The Electoral Commission has followed the evidence and conducted a thorough investigation into spending and campaigning carried out by Vote Leave and BeLeave,” Bob Posner, Electoral Commission Director of Political Finance and Regulation & Legal Counsel, said.
“We found substantial evidence that the two groups worked to a common plan, did not declare their joint working and did not adhere to the legal spending limits. These are serious breaches of the laws put in place by Parliament to ensure fairness and transparency at elections and referendums. Our findings relate primarily to the organisation which put itself forward as fit to be the designated campaigner for the ‘leave’ outcome.
“Vote Leave has resisted our investigation from the start, including contesting our right as the statutory regulator to open the investigation. It has refused to cooperate, refused our requests to put forward a representative for interview, and forced us to use our legal powers to compel it to provide evidence. Nevertheless, the evidence we have found is clear and substantial.”
A spokesperson for Vote Leave disputed the commission’s findings
“The Electoral Commission’s report contains a number of false accusations and incorrect assertions that are wholly inaccurate and do not stand up to scrutiny,” the spokesperson said.
“Vote Leave has provided evidence to the Lelectoral Commission proving there was no wrongoing. And yet despite clear evidence of wrongdoing by the Remain campiagn, the commission has chosen to ignore this and refused to launch an investigation. All this suggests tha thae supposedly impartial commision is motivate by a political agenda rather than uncovering the facts.”
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