Leave.EU fined £70k over breaches of electoral law

Leave.EU fined £70k over breaches of electoral law

The campaign group Leave.EU has been fined £70,000 for breaches of electoral law during the EU referendum campaign, with the group's chief executive referred to the Metropolitan Police over spending irregularities.

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".

The controversial political consultancy is at the centre of a storm over how Facebook data was used in political campaigns.

It also said the "unlawful overspend" by Leave.EU was at least £77,380 ($104,600) but "may well have been considerably higher".

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

The pro-Brexit group, which was separate from the official Leave campaign fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, was found to have delivered incomplete and inaccurate accounts of its outgoing expenditure during the European Union referendum campaign.

It added: "This included a lack of transparency and incorrect reporting around who provided the loans, the dates the loans were entered into, the repayment date and the interest rate". "Finally, Leave.EU failed to provide the required invoice or receipt for 97 payments of over £200 ($270), totaling £80,224 ($108,500)".

Arron Banks, the founder of Leave.EU who was pictured with Donald Trump and leading Brexiteer Nigel Farage outside a gilded elevator soon after the 2016 US presidential election, cast doubt on the commission's impartiality.

"It is therefore disappointing that Leave.EU, a key player in the EU referendum, was unable to abide by these rules".

Leave.EU said in an emailed statement that they would appeal the fines, and demanded the Electoral Commission release all the information they had on the matter.

Banks's response to the findings was combative, with the businessman threatening to take legal action against the commission.

Speaking to the Today programme, she said: "The decisions were made by directors of the Electoral Commission, they were made based on robust evidence we had gathered and indeed you can see that in the 30-page report that we published".

"The Electoral Commission went big game fishing and found a few "aged" dead sardines on the beach". So much for the big conspiracy!

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