UK’s official Brexit campaign fined, referred to police

Published July 17, 2018, 4:18 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Agence France-Presse

Britain’s official Brexit campaign, Vote Leave, has been fined for breaking spending rules in the 2016 EU referendum, the Electoral Commission said Tuesday, adding it had referred the case to the police.

British businessman Arron Banks founded the campaign (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)
British businessman Arron Banks founded the campaign (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Bob Posner, the Electoral Commission’s director of political finance and regulation, said there had been “a thorough investigation into spending and campaigning carried out by Vote Leave” and the smaller pro-Brexit group BeLeave during the campaign for the referendum.

“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,” Posner said.

The report found that the Vote Leave campaign exceeded its legal spending limit of £7.0 million (7.9 million euros, $9.3 million) by almost £500,000.

Vote Leave also returned an incomplete and inaccurate spending report and failed to submit some invoices for its spending.

The report said the BeLeave group, which was founded by fashion student Darren Grimes, spent more than £675,000 with Aggregate IQ, a Canadian digital political advertising company, under “a common plan” with Vote Leave.

Vote Leave was fined £61,000 and Grimes was fined £20,000.

“Investigation files have been shared with the Metropolitan Police in relation to whether any persons have committed related offenses which lie outside our regulatory remit,” the report said.