The Electoral Commission has today published the conclusions of its investigation into the campaign spending of Vote Leave and a number of other campaigners, and has found Vote Leave and Darren Grimes broke electoral law.
The Commission’s investigation found significant evidence of joint working between the lead campaigner, Vote Leave and another campaign group BeLeave.
Evidence shows that BeLeave spent more than £675,000 with Aggregate IQ under a common plan with Vote Leave. This spending should have been declared by Vote Leave. It means Vote Leave exceeded its legal spending limit of £7 million by almost £500,000.
Vote Leave also returned an incomplete and inaccurate spending report, with nearly £234,501 reported incorrectly, and invoices missing for £12,849.99 of spending.
Darren Grimes, the founder of the BeLeave campaign group, was found to have committed two offences and has been fined £20,000. Mr Grimes spent more than £675,000 on behalf of BeLeave, a non-registered campaigner that had a spending limit of £10,000. Further, he wrongly reported that same spending as his own.
The Commission has now referred both Mr David Halsall the responsible person for Vote Leave, and Mr Grimes to the Metropolitan Police in relation to false declarations of campaign spending.
It has also shared its investigation files with the Metropolitan Police in relation to whether any persons have committed related offences which lie outside the Commission’s regulatory remit.
Bob Posner, Electoral Commission Director of Political Finance and Regulation & Legal Counsel said, “The Electoral Commission has followed the evidence and conducted a thorough investigation into spending and campaigning carried out by Vote Leave and BeLeave. 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. These are serious breaches of the laws put in place by Parliament to ensure fairness and transparency at elections and referendums. Our findings relate primarily to the organisation which put itself forward as fit to be the designated campaigner for the ‘leave’ outcome.”