World Brexit campaign group fined by British elections watchdog for breaking spending rules

10:41  11 may  2018
10:41  11 may  2018 Source:   reuters.com

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The Electoral Commission is already investigating the Leave campaign over similar allegations. Pro-Remain group Open Britain, formerly Britain Stronger in Europe, has always maintained it complied with spending rules . GETTY. Priti Patel wrote a letter to the election watchdog .

Vote Leave — the official campaign group for Brexit — has been accused of breaking spending rules during the EU referendum campaign . Whistleblower Shahmir Sanni told Channel 4 that Vote Leave used a smaller organisation called BeLeave to bypass spending limits.

a person holding a sign: A woman walks past a Leave.EU campaign mobile advertising board in central London © REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth A woman walks past a Leave.EU campaign mobile advertising board in central London

One of the main Brexit campaign groups in Britain's 2016 EU referendum was fined 70,000 pounds ($95,000) on Friday for incorrectly reporting what it spent and exceeding a limit on expenditure, the Electoral Commission said.

The commission said Leave.EU incorrectly reported what it spent at the EU referendum, failing to include at least 77,380 pounds in its spending return and thus exceeding a spending limit.

Such is the seriousness of the offences that the commission said it suspected criminal offences may have been committed by the person responsible and referred the case to the police.

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Anti- Brexit campaigners FINED thousands of pounds for breaching spending rules . The elections watchdog slapped a £17,000 penalty on the Lib Dems for providing no, or inadequate, invoices and receipts for 80 payments worth a total of more than £80,000.

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Electoral Commission said on Friday it was investigating whether the influential pro- Brexit Leave.EU campaign group broke the law over donations it received “We fully and correctly complied with the Electoral Commission rules on spending during the referendum.

"These are serious offences," said Bob Posner, the Electoral Commission's director of political finance and regulation.

"Leave.EU exceeded its spending limit and failed to declare its funding and its spending correctly," Posner said.

In the June 23, 2016 referendum, 17.4 million votes, or 51.9 percent of votes cast, backed leaving the EU while 16.1 million votes, or 48.1 percent of votes cast, backed staying.

Leave.EU said the total alleged overspend represented less than 0.1 percent of the total campaign finance spend and was a risible attempt to portray the campaign as breaking the rules.

Arron Banks, the founder of Leave.EU, cast doubt on the Electoral Commission's impartiality, saying it was packed full of opponents of Brexit, who are sometimes known as "Remoaners".

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Official Brexit campaign Vote Leave faces fresh probe by elections watchdog . But I don't agree with losing what it means to be British in that process; losing what it means to follow the rules ; losing what it means to be quite literally a functioning democracy.”

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"The Electoral Commission is a 'Blairite Swamp Creation' packed full of establishment 'Remoaners'," Banks said.

"We view the Electoral Commission announcement as a politically motivated attack on Brexit and the 17.4 million people who defied the establishment to vote for an independent Britain," he said.

The commission said Leave.EU failed to include services it received from U.S. campaign strategy firm Goddard Gunster in a spending return. The commission also found Leave.EU inaccurately reported three loans it had received.

But the voting regulator said it had found no evidence that Leave.EU received donations or paid-for services from Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy at the center of a storm over how Facebook data was used in political campaigns.

"The investigation found no evidence that Leave.EU received donations or paid-for services from Cambridge Analytica for its referendum campaigning and found that the relationship did not develop beyond initial scoping work," it said.

Leave.EU and Cambridge Analytica had previously denied working together on the Brexit campaign. Leave.EU was not the officially designated "leave" campaign group during the referendum.

"The Electoral Commission went big game fishing and found a few 'aged' dead sardines on the beach. So much for the big conspiracy!" Banks said. "What a shambles, we will see them in court."

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Guy Faulconbridge/Paul Sandle)

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Source: http://us.pressfrom.com/news/world/-143972-brexit-campaign-group-fined-by-british-elections-watchdog-for-breaking-spending-rules/

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