politics

Vote Leave breached electoral rules, watchdog will find – reports


A watchdog is expected to find that Vote Leave, the official Brexit campaign, breached electoral rules during the referendum, according to reports.

The campaign group’s former chief executive, Matthew Elliott, said the Electoral Commission (EC) had concluded that Vote Leave exceeded spending limits and made a donation to a group that it should not have.

However, he has accused the EC of a “huge breach of natural justice”, alleging that the watchdog had not listened to Vote Leave’s version of events.

If found guilty of breaking electoral law the campaign could be fined.

He told Sky News: “Their initial conclusion is that we have overspent, that a donation we made to another group during the course of the campaign was incorrect, we shouldn’t have made that donation.”

The EC said Vote Leave had taken an “unusual step” of going public with the findings of its draft report.

Allegations against the official Brexit campaign centre on a donation of almost £680,000 made by the campaign to a youth Brexit group called BeLeave.

It is alleged the money was actually used for the benefit of Vote Leave, to pay data firm Aggregate IQ for targeted messaging services.

If this cash was recorded as Vote Leave expenditure, it would take the campaign’s spending over the £7m limit, raising the prospect that electoral law had been breached.

The allegations come from information provided by whistleblowers including Christopher Wylie and Shahmir Sanni.

Wylie worked for Cambridge Analytica, the data firm at the centre of the Facebook privacy scandal, while Sanni worked with Vote Leave.

Elliott told Sky News: “(The EC) listened to these, quite frankly marginal characters who came out in March, and listened to their stories, but haven’t had evidence from Vote Leave side of things.

“I think it is a huge breach of natural justice that they haven’t wanted to listen to our opinions and our story and we were the people running the campaign.”

An EC spokesman said: “The commission has concluded its investigation and having reached initial findings provided Vote Leave with a 28-day period to make any further or new representations. That period ended on Tuesday 3 July.

“The unusual step taken by Vote Leave in sharing its views on the Electoral Commission’s initial findings does not affect the process set out in law.”



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