Lead Brexit marketing campaign group faces police inquiry over its spending

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s formally designated Brexit marketing campaign group, Vote Leave, was fined 61,000 kilos on Tuesday for breaching spending guidelines within the 2016 referendum and was referred to the police by the Electoral Commission.

The transfer by the fee, which stated severe breaches of the regulation had been dedicated by Vote Leave, added to calls from opponents of Brexit for a re-run of the referendum on European Union membership, although Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly dominated out one other vote.

Two years since voting by 52 p.c to 48 p.c to depart the bloc, the United Kingdom, its political and business leaders stay deeply divided over the nation’s plans for departing from the EU on March 29, 2019.

The fee stated Vote Leave, which was fronted by main Brexiteers comparable to Boris Johnson, who resigned as international secretary final week, and Michael Gove, now surroundings minister, used an allied group to pay Aggregate IQ, a company which used social media knowledge to focus on voters, and thus exceeded spending.

“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,” stated Bob Posner, the fee’s director of political finance and regulation.

Brexit campaigners say they’re preventing an try by the British institution to thwart the method of leaving the EU and have repeatedly dismissed as nonsense claims by opponents that they cheated, lied and even colluded with Russia to win.

Vote Leave stated the Electoral Commision had made false accusations, didn’t interview anyone from the group and have been politically-motivated.

“Having skimmed the (commission’s) report, they’ve ignored (Vote Leave’s) detailed evidence, so it’s riddled with errors & conclusions completely wrong,” Matthew Elliott, who was head of the group, stated on Twitter.

“We accepted their invitation for an interview in early March. Senior staff also volunteered to be interviewed. They haven’t followed due process.”

FILE PHOTO: Head of Vote Leave, Matthew Elliott, poses for on the Vote Leave marketing campaign headquarters in London, Britain May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo


Overall, Vote Leave was found to have exceeded the statutory spending restrict of seven million kilos by 449,079 kilos by working with BeLeave, which spent 675,000 kilos with Aggregate IQ below a typical plan with Vote Leave.

The fee stated Vote Leave ought to have declared its joint spending and added that its spending return was inaccurate in respect of 43 gadgets of spending totalling 236,501 kilos.

David Halsall, the accountable individual for Vote Leave, and Darren Grimes, the founding father of the BeLeave marketing campaign group, have been referred to the police for false declarations of marketing campaign spending.

Grimes stated he was shocked and dissatisfied by the fee’s determination, including that he did nothing improper.

Vote Leave resisted the investigation from the beginning and had refused to cooperate, the fee stated.

“Nevertheless, the evidence we have found is clear and substantial,” Posner stated. “These are serious breaches of the laws put in place by parliament to ensure fairness and transparency at elections and referendums.”

In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 17.four million individuals, or 51.9 p.c of votes forged, supported leaving the EU, whereas 16.1 million individuals, or 48.1 p.c of the votes, supported staying within the EU.

“With new facts arising every week … we know their claims turned out to be fantasy but we now know they cheated too,” opposition MP Chuka Umunna informed parliament after demanding an pressing response from the government.

“We cannot say with confidence that this foul play did not impact on the result.”

May’s spokesman stated on Monday there can be no second referendum after a former British minister, Justine Greening, referred to as for one more vote to resolve a parliamentary stalemate on Brexit.

“We are very clear that this was a legitimate democratic exercise in which the public delivered its opinion and that is what we’re going to be delivering on,” May’s spokesman informed reporters on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Vote depart indicators are seen within the window of a store in Hale northern England, June 7, 2016. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

(The story was refiled so as to add a dropped phrase within the second final paragraph)

Additional reporting by William James and Michael Holden, Editing by William Maclean and Gareth Jones

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