Leave.EU campaign chief Liz Bilney faces police scrutiny over 'incorrect' spending

Blanche Robertson
May 12, 2018

The Electoral Commission investigation found Leave.EU, a group co-founded by former Ukip backer Arron Banks, overspent by at least £77,380 - 10 per cent over the limit for non-party registered groups.

In a statement, Bob Posner, Electoral Commission Director of Political Finance and Regulation & Legal Counsel, said the findings were "disappointing".

- Leave.EU failed to include a minimum of 77,380 pounds in its spending return, thereby exceeding its spending limit by more than 10 percent, in breach of electoral law.

The June 2016 vote saw Britain vote to leave the EU.

The commission report said: 'Through its investigation, the Commission also has reasonable grounds to suspect that the responsible person for Leave.EU committed criminal offences and she has therefore been referred to the Metropolitan Police'.

They add that the "unlawful over-spend" may have been "considerable higher" than that.

Electoral Commission Chief Executive Claire Bassett denied the claims of bias made by Mr Banks, adding there was evidence of problems with financial reporting. The Electoral Commission has fined the campaign organisation a total of £70,000 for failures in its declaration, with the regulator noting the level of penalties "has been constrained by the cap on the commission's fines".

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Services the group received from USA campaign strategy firm Goddard Gunster were not included in spending returns, despite a proportion of them having been used during Leave.EU's referendum campaign.

29 may 2017, the European Commission has published key requirements for the United Kingdom in the process of withdrawal from the EU.

The Electoral Commission said that, as a non-designated campaigner, the referendum spending limit on Leave.EU was 700,000 pounds.

As part of its investigations, the Commission also examined whether there were any links between Leave.EU and Cambridge Analytica, a controversial political consultancy at the centre of a Facebook data scandal.

The completeness of Leave.EU's referendum campaign spending return, looking at the same transactions, the spending, and the inclusion of supporting invoices and receipts for payments over £200.

This designation instead went to the rival Vote Leave group, which was allowed to spend up to £7m during the final weeks of the referendum campaign.

However Mr Banks threatened to take authorized motion in response, saying: "We view the Electoral Fee announcement as a politically motivated assault on Brexit and the 17.Four million individuals who defied the institution to vote for an unbiased Britain". So much for the big conspiracy. "We will be robustly defending our position in court".

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