U.K.’s official Brexit campaign fined

Accused of breaking spending rules

Britain’s official Brexit campaign, Vote Leave, has been fined for breaking spending rules in the 2016 EU membership referendum, the Electoral Commission announced on Tuesday, adding that it had referred the case to the police.

The Electoral Commission regulator said the winning side in the referendum had worked together with a smaller pro-Brexit group called BeLeave and had made a donation to the youth organisation to get around its own campaign finance limits.

“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,” said Bob Posner, the commission’s director of political finance and regulation.

Serious breaches

“These are serious breaches of the laws put in place by Parliament to ensure fairness and transparency at elections and referendums,” Mr. Posner said.

A Vote Leave spokesman accused the Electoral Commission of being “motivated by a political agenda rather than uncovering the facts”.

The spokesman said there were “a number of false accusations and incorrect assertions that are wholly inaccurate and do not stand up to scrutiny”.

In the referendum, the official pro- and anti-Brexit campaign groups, designated by the Electoral Commission, had spending limits of £7 million ($9.3 million).

The commission’s report found that the Vote Leave campaign made a donation of more than £6,75,000 to BeLeave, and because they worked together had thereby exceeded the £7 million spending limit by almost £5,00,000.

‘Common plan’

The report said BeLeave, which was founded by fashion student Darren Grimes, spent more than £6,75,000 with AggregateIQ, a Canadian digital political advertising company, under a “common plan” with Vote Leave.

Shahmir Sanni, who worked with Vote Leave, alleged the money was used to pay AggregateIQ for targeted messaging services on Facebook and other social media.

Vote Leave was fined £61,000 and Grimes was fined £20,000, the maximum levy for an individual.

But the Vote Leave spokesman said it had provided evidence to the Electoral Commission “proving there was no wrongdoing”.

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