LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s formally designated Brexit marketing campaign group, Vote Leave, was fined £61,000 on Tuesday for breaching spending guidelines within the 2016 referendum and referred to the police by the Electoral Commission.
The transfer by the fee, which mentioned severe breaches of the legislation 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 52-48 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 mentioned Vote Leave, which was fronted by main Brexiteers akin to former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and setting minister Michael Gove, used an allied group to pay Aggregate IQ, a company which used social media information 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,” Bob Posner, the fee’s director of political finance and regulation.
Brexit campaigners say they’re combating 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 mentioned the Electoral Commision had made false accusations, did not interview anyone from the group and had not adopted due course of.
“All this suggests that the supposedly impartial Commission is motivated by a political agenda rather than uncovering the facts,” a Vote Leave spokesman. The fee has “has based its conclusions on unfounded claims and conspiracy theories.”
Overall, Vote Leave was found to have exceeded the statutory spending restrict of seven million kilos by £449,079 by working with BeLeave, which spent £675,000 with Aggregate IQ below a standard plan with Vote Leave.
The fee mentioned Vote Leave ought to have declared its joint spending and added that its spending return was inaccurate in respect of 43 objects of spending totalling £236,501.
David Halsall, the accountable individual for Vote Leave, and Darren Grimes, the founding father of the BeLeave marketing campaign group, had been referred to the police for false declarations of marketing campaign spending.
Vote Leave resisted the investigation from the beginning and had refused to cooperate, the fee mentioned.
“Nevertheless, the evidence we have found is clear and substantial,” Posner mentioned. “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 folks, or 51.9 p.c of votes solid, supported leaving the EU whereas 16.1 million folks, or 48.1 p.c of the votes, supported staying within the EU.
May’s spokesman once more repeated on Monday that there would no second referendum after a former British minister, Justine Greening, known as for an additional vote to resolve a parliamentary stalemate on Brexit.
Editing by Michael Holden, Editing by William Maclean