LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Electoral Commission mentioned on Tuesday it had fined the formally designated pro-Brexit marketing campaign group 61,000 kilos for breaching spending guidelines within the 2016 referendum and referred it to the police.
Two years since voting 51.9-48.1 to depart the EU, the United Kingdom, the political elite and business stay deeply divided over whether or not the nation ought to depart the European Union on March 29, 2019, and in that case how.
While opponents of Brexit have claimed the marketing campaign to depart the EU cheated within the referendum, the Electoral Commission’s chief government Claire Bassett informed BBC radio that its investigation was focussed solely on marketing campaign spending violations.
The fee mentioned Vote Leave labored with one other marketing campaign group, BeLeave, which spent 675,000 kilos ($893,500) with Aggregate IQ, a company which used social media information to focus on voters, underneath a typical plan with Vote Leave.
“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.
Posner added that Vote Leave had resisted the investigation from the beginning and had refused to cooperate.
“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.”
Vote Leave was fined 61,000 kilos and the Electoral Commission referred David Halsall, the accountable individual for Vote Leave, and Darren Grimes, the founding father of the BeLeave marketing campaign group, to the police for false declarations of marketing campaign spending.
Supporters of Brexit say they’re combating an try by the institution to thwart Brexit.
“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,” a Vote Leave spokesman mentioned in a press release.
“All this suggests that the supposedly impartial Commission is motivated by a political agenda rather than uncovering the facts.”
Under British electoral legislation it’s the duty of campaigners to make sure that an correct and full marketing campaign spending return is accomplished on time.
The fee opened an investigation in November 2017 after it found proof indicating that Vote Leave had made funds to Aggregate IQ within the 10 days earlier than the referendum.
The investigation found that Vote Leave’s referendum spending was 7,449,079.34 kilos, exceeding its statutory spending restrict of seven million kilos.
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; enhancing by Michael Holden