UK watchdog fines Leave.EU for breaking spending rules
The U.K. Electoral Commission today fined campaign group Leave.EU for breaking electoral spending rules.
The pro-Brexit campaign group was fined £70,000 for multiple breaches of electoral law during the 2016 Brexit referendum, including exceeding its spending limit and not accurately declaring its funding and spending.
The Electoral Commission said it suspects criminal offenses may have been committed and has referred Leave.EU campaign chief Liz Bilney to the police.
Arron Banks, the co-founder of Leave.EU, portrayed the fine as politically motivated and insisted the group would challenge the decision in court.
“The entire Commission is composed of … all sorts of people who all believe in Remain,” Banks told BBC Radio 4. “We wont let matters rest here … We will be robustly defending our position in court.”
The Electoral Commission said it found no evidence that Cambridge Analytica — the data mining firm at the center of a global outrage over misuse of private Facebook data — performed paid work or gave donations to Leave.EU during the 10-week campaign period leading up to the vote.
“We did not find evidence that [Leave.EU] received services during that period of time,” Claire Bassett, chief executive of the Electoral Commission, told BBC Radio 4.
Claims the fine is politically motivated are unfounded, according to Bassett: “Matters about whether a referendum needs to be called or should be called are very important matters, but they are matters for the parliament, not us.”
“We remain confident our findings are accurate based on the information that weve seen,” she said.