Electoral Commission Email Reveals They Refused to Speak to Vote Leave

After finding Vote Leave guilty of breaking electoral law this morning, the Electoral Commission are claiming that officials from the Brexit campaign refused to attend interviews. Yet this email from Louise Edwards, the Tory-hating Electoral Commission boss, to lawyers for the Vote Leave officials says otherwise:

Eh? Which is it? And how on earth can they reasonably find an organisation guilty of breaking the law without hearing their side of the story? Justice – Electoral Commission style…

This was Louise Edwards excuse to Vote Leave boss Dominic Cummings for failing to speak to him, emailed yesterday. Essentially, she is arguing the Electoral Commission only made claims about Vote Leave as a whole so don’t need to speak to the key players involved. Which does not seem to be justice in any sense. Real possibility the Commission could be sued here…

Electoral Commission Ignored Evidence Disproving Central Claims Against Vote Leave

The Electoral Commission is facing difficult questions this morning after it emerged they are to find Vote Leave guilty of breaking electoral law despite refusing to hear evidence that would have disproved the central claims. BeLeave’s Darren Grimes, who was 22 at the time, is expecting to be fined £20,000 for filling in his forms wrongly. The Commission failed to interview a single senior Vote Leave staff member during its investigation, or at any point in the last two years. They heard evidence from the discredited whistleblowers making the allegations, yet didn’t allow Vote Leave figures to defend themselves against the claims, despite multiple attempts from Vote Leave officials to meet the Commission and provide evidence. This is a real breach of natural justice – whatever you think of Brexit and the merits of the case, is it justice if the Electoral Commission find someone guilty of a criminal offence without allowing them to give a defence? 

It gets worse, the Electoral Commission’s failure to discuss any of their accusations with Vote Leave means that many of them are just factually incorrect. The central finding was reached because the Commission wrongly claimed that a bombshell email from Dominic Cummings to donor Anthony Clake proved that Vote Leave were raising donations for BeLeave with the intention of obliging the latter to spend that money on AIQ. They missed evidence from other internal emails that BeLeave had in fact requested money to spend on AIQ weeks before. So the Electoral Commission’s bombshell email… isn’t.

The Commission claims that BeLeave’s messaging was controlled by Vote Leave, yet they again refused to speak to anyone from Vote Leave to challenge that assertion. They even ignored evidence from the whistleblowers themselves that the messaging was in fact controlled by BeLeave. This point just looks nakedly partisan from the Electoral Commission – even Carole Cadwalladr doesn’t make this claim.

There are basic factual errors, the Commission claimed BeLeave was established in May 2016, it was in fact established and was active for many months before. The Commission’s own former retained barrister, Tim Straker QC, has noted that their continual mistakes amount to “an error in law”.

This is all without mentioning the Electoral Commission’s refusal to investigate the wealth of evidence that the Remain campaign colluded on a much greater scale. Guido can understand why Remain campaigners want to do in Vote Leave and overturn Brexit, but this stitch up from the Electoral Commission is objectively not justice…

Priti Hands Dossier of Remain Collusion Evidence to Electoral Commission

Priti Patel has handed a dossier of evidence to the Electoral Commission that demonstrates beyond doubt that the various Remain campaigns coordinated their spending in breach of the rules. The Commission’s guidance is clear: “you are very likely to be working together if you have joint advertising campaigns”. That is exactly what the various supposedly independent campaigns did regarding the “Don’t F*ck My Future” advertising campaign. Guido cannot see how the Remain campaigns can claim they did not co-ordinate.

Having looked through the documents on the Electoral Commission’s website, I note that, according to Adam & Eve/DDB’s returns, producing these advertisements cost in excess of £76,000. However, only one campaign – Wake Up And Vote – ever paid an invoice to DDB for producing the videos, and only for £24,000. The remainder of the cost appears to have been funded by a mixture of payments and donations from other campaigns and major Remain donors.

Wake Up And Vote

Directly invoiced by ‘Adam and Eve’. Asked to pay £24,000 for the video

Wake Up And Vote received the entirety of their funding (£100,000) from Lisbet Rausing, one of the main donors to Britain Stronger in Europe and Conservatives IN 

Britain Stronger in Europe

Gave £7,467 to DDB on 1 June for ‘advertising’, but this was declared as notional expenditure with ‘Adam & Eve’, so no invoice or further details were provided. This means it is unclear what precise advertising it is for.

We Are Europe

Gave £10,000 to DDB on 29 June but did not declare any joint spending 

We Are Europe received the majority of its funding from two of Britain Stronger in Europe’s main donors, Lord Sainsbury (£116,000) and Ian Taylor (£99,000)

Britain Stronger in Europe, Wake Up And Vote, We Are Europe, and DDB were all registered as independent campaigners in their own right but none declared this as joint spending. Despite only one campaign paying an invoice for the advertisements and registering this with the Electoral Commission, multiple campaigns were reported to be involved in producing the videos:

14th June – it was reported that the ads were made for We Are Europe 

14th June – in an interview with the co-founder of ‘We Are Europe’, it was reported that the videos are a ‘collaboration between agencies adam&eveDDB and Kin&Co, alongside campaign groups Wake up & Vote and We Are Europe’ (link)

15th June – it was reported that the ad was made for Britain Stronger In Europe 

24th June – it was reported that the ads were made for We are EU (presumably ‘We are Europe’) 

Britain Stronger in Europe, Wake Up And Vote, We Are Europe, and DDB all distributed these videos widely on social media. And despite not reporting any payments towards the cost of the video, Britain Stronger in Europe hosted the advert on its website, with no branding added to suggest that it was not an official Britain Stronger in Europe video. It is important to note that the video on the website was not ‘shared’ (which might be seen as in keeping with the rules), but was actually hosted. This means that Britain Stronger in Europe were provided with a service which they then made use of in their advertising. To anyone visiting their website, it would have appeared that the video was produced by Britain Stronger in Europe for their campaign purposes. This is a clear breach of the spending rules.

Priti quite reasonably says:

This goes further than any accusations levelled at Vote Leave about having a ‘common plan’ for campaign activity. This provides demonstrable evidence that Remain campaigns colluded in producing adverts with a ‘common plan’, and in doing so avoided the cost of the project being included in Britain Stronger in Europe’s spending.

The Electoral Commission say they are considering the evidence. It would be a joke if they do not investigate this clear evidence of spending coordination…

Priti Demands New Probe Into Remain Spending and Questions Electoral Commission Impartiality

Following fresh revelations today about the Remain campaign overspend during the referendum, Priti Patel has written to the Electoral Commission calling for an investigation. Readers will remember the Electoral Commission refused to investigate previous evidence of Remain overspending, despite investigating Vote Leave for the same thing. Priti warns the Commission there are questions over their impartiality – Guido has the letter:

I am writing, further to our correspondence earlier this year, and in light of the revelations in the Sunday Telegraph about new evidence of services being shared among the various Remain campaigns in the 2016 EU referendum.

I am sure you share my deep concerns that Britain Stronger in Europe seems to have been provided with services by other Remain campaigns without declaring the expenditure in the appropriate way. There is evidence that many campaigns appear to have acted as a mere continuity of the official Remain campaign as it approached its spending limit, the most egregious example of this being the regrettably named ‘Don’t f*ck my future’ campaign, which many different Remain organisations appear to have involved themselves in.

As you will be well aware, the findings in the Sunday Telegraph are just the latest example of concerns being raised about how the Remain campaign conducted itself during the referendum. There have been numerous ‘warning signals’ over the last few months, including several media reports that have strongly suggested that Britain Stronger in Europe tried to circumvent the Electoral Commission’s rules during the EU referendum. As a reminder, these include:

  • Admissions by senior figures within Britain Stronger in Europe that they were coordinating messaging and campaign activity with other Remain campaigns including Labour In, Conservatives In and the Liberal Democrats.
  • The fact that a number of Remain campaigns were set up in the month leading up to the referendum, which received hundreds of thousands of pounds from donors who had previously made payments to Britain Stronger in Europe and other pro-EU campaigns.
  • Reports that Britain Stronger in Europe were delegating ground campaign activity to the Labour Party, potentially sharing campaign material such as leaflets and canvassing data.

When I wrote to you earlier this year to highlight some of these concerning pieces of evidence you decided to take no action – claiming there were no ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect that these activities were ‘part of a common plan or other arrangement’. We are now faced with a situation where others are instead having to undertake the sort of investigation that the Commission should have taken months ago. It is all the more concerning, as a significant proportion of the evidence cited in the Sunday Telegraph report appears to have come from the Electoral Commission’s own records.

This raises serious questions about the impartiality of the Electoral Commission. The material uncovered in the Sunday Telegraph, coupled with the evidence made public earlier this year, suggests that the Commission has decided to hold Leave campaigns to one standard, and Remain campaigners to another, much lower standard.

In November last year, you decided to open a third investigation into the official Vote Leave campaign, even though you admitted in your assessment that there was no new evidence to justify the reopening of this investigation. Despite the absence of any suggestion that the official Leave campaign indulged in the apparent collusion described above, you have nonetheless continued your investigation.

In reopening the case, you set a very low threshold for triggering an investigation into a campaign. And yet, despite setting this low threshold, you have since refused to open any sort of investigation into the Remain campaign – despite the ever-growing volume of evidence that these campaigners were breaking the Commission’s rules.

I am not unsympathetic to the challenges that the Electoral Commission faces. I understand the reasons behind your suggestion to Parliament that the rules on coordination need to be reviewed. But while I accept the argument that the law should be improved – and that this is beyond your control – what is undeniably in your control is the power to treat campaigns equally.

I believe that the Electoral Commission has an important role to play in our democracy, but that role comes with an important responsibility – to be politically neutral at all times. If you want to restore confidence in the Commission, you should either start a formal investigation into Britain Stronger in Europe, or show equity and end the investigation in Vote Leave. The public – and Parliament – want to see the Commission acting with political balance.

I look forward to hearing from you .

Yours sincerely

The Rt. Hon. Priti Patel

The threshold for investigation is low, the Electoral Commission is already investigating Vote Leave for lesser alleged offences… It would tell you all you need to know about the Remainer-stuffed Electoral Commission if they refuse to look into this…

Will Collins Ask Electoral Commission About Remain Overspend?

The Electoral Commission is up in front of the Culture select committee this morning. Guido is sure the Remainer-packed committee, which has been the most one-sided, non-reality based, grandstanding committee by a mile under the tenure of ultra-Remainer chairman Damian Collins, will ask about the Remain campaign’s overspend. A good place to start would be Priti Patel’s letter to the Electoral Commission outlining clear evidence of Remain spending breaches, which for some strange reason the Commission declined to investigate. Culture committee members can read up on the evidence here. Surely Collins will want to ask about the Commission’s double standards?

Tower Hamlets Tories Raise “Serious Concerns” Over Count

Tory councillors and activists are preparing a report for the Electoral Commission after becoming concerned about at last Friday’s “chaotic” Tower Hamlets count. Multiple sources at the heavily policed count described alleged failings including:

  • Failure to replace all teams of counters between the mayoral count (Thursday night) and the council count (Friday afternoon);
  • Both the council ballot verification process (Thursday night) and the count itself being “very disorganised”. Observers said staff seemed unsure how to verify and count split votes, so political counting agents and candidates had to explain to them how to do it…

Suspicions intensified when the result for the Island Gardens was announced: it put Conservative group leader Peter Golds in 4th place. The Tories asked for a recheck because this didn’t match up with their tallies. Golds went from fourth place to second place after the recheck…

On polling day numerous issues had been reported including EU citizens being turned away at polling stations. Golds told Guido:

“Anyone who tries to describe what happened on Friday as a count should reconsider their opinion. The whole thing was a complete and utter shambles. From start to finish the count was totally disorganised, staff didn’t know what they were doing, with ballot papers being misplaced and counting procedures made up on the spot. Following government directions the council have had years to prepare for this election. We were still the last authority in the country to declare a result and there are still concerns that several results may not be correct.”

“The Electoral Commission have serious questions to answer, they need to look carefully at what happened here and sort out the legitimate concerns that people have for over elections once and for all.”

An Electoral Commission spokesman said:

“While it took time for Tower Hamlets to complete its count and declare results for all 20 wards, the processes and procedures that were put in place to address past issues were well managed. Representatives from the Electoral Commission were present throughout the Tower Hamlets count, no issues were raised with them Anyone who does have concerns should contact the Returning Officer for Tower Hamlets.”

Meanwhile, Labour’s re-elected mayor in Tower Hamlets proclaimed the borough has “moved on” from its history of corruption issues. Not quite…

Priti Accuses Electoral Commission of Bias and “Double Standards”

Following the Electoral Commission’s refusal to investigate the Remain campaign despite clear evidence of spending breaches, Priti Patel has accused them of bias and “double standards”. Priti notes that the Commission launched a full investigation into Vote Leave over claims of spending collusion – despite no evidence – and yet are refusing to look at BSE even though a whole dossier of evidence was submitted to them. Priti has a point – how can they investigate the Leavers when there is no evidence, but ignore evidence of Remainers overspending?

What is particularly concerning is that you decided on 20 November 2017 to reopen an investigation into Vote Leave Limited and Mr Darren Grimes, in spite of the fact that there is much less evidence of a common plan. As you acknowledge at [25] of the Review of Assessments – ‘there are no direct indications of the campaigners working together’ (my emphasis added) and that – as you state at [31] – that ‘the Commission is not aware of what any such communications [between Vote Leave and Mr Grimes] contained or whether it indicated a common plan or arrangement was in place’.

In other words – despite the fact that there is no evidence of Vote Leave Limited or Mr Grimes engaging in joint planning (even of an advisory nature) – you have been persuaded of the need for a full investigation. However, when clear documented evidence of the Remain campaigns coordinating specific messaging is presented to you, this is dismissed as ‘advisory’. This would appear to be a clear case of double standards.

Priti not unreasonably alleges the Electoral Commission have a lower bar for investigating Leavers than Remainers:

I have to conclude that the Electoral Commission appears to have used an extraordinarily low bar – arguably, far too low a bar— when deciding to open your new investigation on Vote Leave and other campaigners for Brexit, yet have set a very high bar when deciding to open an investigation into Britain Stronger in Europe.

She wants them to reconsider their decision. Good luck with that – we know where the Electoral Commission’s loyalties really lie

Electoral Commission Confirm Remain Spending “Under Assessment”

The Electoral Commission has confirmed it is looking into whether the Remain campaign coordinated its spending and shared campaign materials in breach of the rules. Responding to Priti Patel’s letter from last week, the Commission said:

“That Britain Stronger In Europe may have failed to report joint spending with the Liberal Democrats, the Labour Party and Conservatives IN by way of paying for campaign materials and/or coordinating campaigns via a daily phone call… This matter is under assessment in line with our Enforcement Policy, to determine whether or not the Commission should conduct an investigation.”

They say they will report back within two weeks. Would be very unlike the Electoral Commission to talk up allegations of Leave rule breaches but talk down the Remain campaign doing the same thing, wouldn’t it?

Priti Asks Electoral Commission to Investigate Remain Campaign

Priti Patel has written to the Electoral Commission asking them to launch an investigation following Guido’s stories on how the Remain campaign flouted spending rules during the referendum. As we revealed last week, Remainers shared data, suppliers and campaign materials, coordinated spending, funnelled £1 million to new campaigns set up in the month before the vote, and potentially spent double the legal limit. Priti says:

“There needs to be a thorough investigation into the actions, expenditure and financial probity of Remain campaigners, who appear to have flouted the rules and the spirit of the law to advance their cause in concert with each other.

It cannot be right that remain campaigners can so blatantly flout the rules to feed the British people their propaganda. As well as coordinating campaigning and spending they used every organ of the British state to try to bully people into staying in the EU. They even spent £9m of taxpayers’ money on a campaign leaflet breaking the normal rules of fair play of our democratic system.

‘Despite this wall of fear and fury the British people held their nerve and bravely voted to take back control. Brexit will be a great liberation for this country – but the leadership of the remain campaign must still be held to account for their actions.”

Read her letter in full below:

The Electoral Commission have told the BBC they are looking into Guido’s stories, but have yet to launch a formal probe. A lot of evidence landing on their desk this morning…

Remain Campaigns Coordinated Spending

Remain lawyer Jolyon Maugham called the validity of the referendum into question over the various Leave campaigns allegedly coordinating their spending. As he wrote in the Guardian, Maugham was so concerned about Vote Leave paying for services from other campaigns that he launched a Judicial Review into what he called “illegal spending”. Maugham will surely be equally outraged to learn that the same thing happened on the Remain campaign…

Guido has found:

  • The In Campaign Ltd paid for £52,062.23 worth of campaign materials for the Liberal Democrats between 15 April 2016 and 8 June 2016.

  • The In Campaign Ltd paid for materials worth £22,829 for Labour on 15 April 2016

  • Labour paid for £7,265.65 worth of materials for the The In Campaign Ltd on 26 May 2016.

  • Emma Duncan (who set up Wake Up And Vote) donated £24,000 to DDB UK Ltd on 11 July 2016.

  • We are Europe donated £10,000 to DDB UK Ltd on 29 June 2016.

  • Virgin Management Limited donated £15,000 to We Are Europe on 15 June 2016.

Maugham accused Vote Leave of breaking the law and said parliament could decide to overturn Brexit as a result. He wrote: “It’s not just about Brexit. The reason we have spending limits is because we want to live in a democracy”. Now it’s clear the Remain campaign was doing the same thing, will he call for an investigation into them too?

Guido’s investigation over the last few days has revealed the Remain campaign coordinated not only their spending but their messaging, campaign plans, data, materials and donations, with the effect of causing them to overspend by more than double the legal limit. Stay tuned…

Remain Donors Funnelled £1 Million to New Campaigns Set Up in Weeks Before Referendum

More than £1 million of Remain donors’ money was funnelled to new campaigns set up in the weeks before the referendum, as the official Remain campaign approached its maximum spending limit. A Guido investigation can reveal several of the campaigns that supported Remain were registered only weeks before the referendum, and were given hundreds of thousands of pounds each to spend in those final weeks.

  • DDB UK Ltd registered as an independent campaign on 25 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. DDB UK Ltd received £191,000 in donations.

  • Best For Our Future registered as a permitted participant on 27 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. It received £424,000 in donations

  • The In Crowd registered on 10 June 2016, less than two weeks before the referendum. It received £76,000 in donations.

  • Virgin Management Ltd registered as a permitted participant on 3 June 2016, less than three weeks before the referendum. It received £210,000 in donations.

  • Wake Up And Vote registered as a permitted participant on 24 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. It received £100,000 in donations.

Five campaigns which only registered less than one month before the referendum received a total of £1,001,000 in donations. 85% of the total donations given to these campaigns were made by people who had already donated to the official Remain campaign:

Could it possibly be that the official campaign was getting close to its legal limit, and so the donors’ money was directed to other groups in the run up to the vote so it could still be spent? Remember this is exactly what Remainers have accused the Leave campaign of doing, claiming this is reason for the result to be overturned. Stunning hypocrisy…

Remain Groups Shared Data, Suppliers and Campaign Materials

The Electoral Commission is investigating whether Vote Leave and other Leave campaigns coordinated by using the same supplier, digital marketing agency AIQ. This story has been reported extensively in the pro-Remain media, some Remainers have even suggested it means the referendum result should be voided. Yet Guido has found evidence of this happening with the various Remain campaigns, on a much larger scale…

  • The In Campaign Ltd spent £7,467.60 with advertising agency Adam and Eve on 1 June 2016.

  • Remain group Wake Up And Vote spent £24,000 on Adam and Eve on 28 June.

  • Adam and Eve registered another agency, DDB UK Ltd, as an independent Remain campaign, which received £191,000 in donations. This included £24,000 from Emma Duncan, founder of Wake Up And Vote. DDB UK Ltd’s registered address was the same as Adam and Eve’s, and its responsible person was Adam and Eve chief executive James Murphy.

This means that the official Remain campaign used the services of a business which had already set up its own campaign as a permitted participant in the referendum, spending nearly £250,000. It is impossible to believe that no coordination occurred here.

  • M&C Saatchi acted as a supplier to both The In Campaign Ltd, which spent £57,600 on the advertising agency, and Conservatives IN Ltd which spent £4,029.81.

  • The In Crowd spent £34,375.20 on Build Hollywood Ltd, whilst We Are Europe spent £54,000 on the same supplier.

  • Freud Communications offered its services to The In Crowd at a cost of £64,431.78, and to We Are Europe for £30,000.

  • Goodstuff Communications acted as a supplier to both The In Crowd which spent £55,215 on the agency, and We Are Europe which spent £6,000.

Is it believable that there was no coordination between The In Campaign, Wake Up and Vote, Adam and Eve and DDB UK? Is it believable that the same communications companies acted for multiple Remain campaigners with no coordination whatsoever? Just think how mad the Remainers went about Vote Leave and AIQ – it turns out their own side was doing it on a much bigger scale…

Then there is the question of the various Remain groups sharing data and campaign materials. An extract from Tim Shipman’s All Out War reveals: “[Stronger In’s] field operation was effectively subcontracted to the Labour Party, since the Tories had little or no presence in the working-class areas which the Brexiteers were targeting”. If the Labour Party was in charge of the field campaign, did BSE notify its supporters that it would share their data with a third party? Is it believable that there was no coordination here on messaging, leaflets and other campaign materials? The Electoral Commission is investigating Vote Leave, surely it will have to take a look at the Remain campaign too…

Remain Campaign Flouted Rules to Spend Double Legal Limit

The Remain campaign flouted Electoral Commission rules so it could overspend by up to £7.5 million during the referendum, a Guido investigation can reveal. Over the next few days Guido will be looking at how the various Remain groups coordinated their messaging, campaign plans, data, materials and donations, causing them to overspend by more than double the legal limit. Sorry Electoral Commission HQ, you’re going to have to come back early from your Christmas holidays…

The Electoral Commission rules are clear: if one campaign “coordinates [its] activity with another campaigner”, then they are “highly likely to be working together”. This definition of “working together” is important, because the Electoral Commission also says: “the lead campaign group must count all of the spending of all the campaigners it works together with towards its own limit”. Guess what… they didn’t.

Two books provide detailed accounts of a number of Remain campaigns coordinating plans and working together in the weeks leading up to the referendum. Tim Shipman’s All Out War reveals “[Craig] Oliver led an early-morning conference call for the media teams at 6.15am. At 7.30am there was a second conference call, in which Stronger In would tell Labour In, Conservatives IN and the Liberal Democrats about their plans for the day”. This clearly counts as “coordinating” and “working together” under the Electoral Commission’s definition.

In his book Unleashing Demons, Craig Oliver somewhat ill-advisedly admits to coordination between the various Remain campaigns: “I join a 7.30 a.m. cross-party call chaired by Will Straw. It’s designed to catch up with what the In campaigns for the various political parties are doing that day. I want to get across a blunt message: this matters. We failed on immigration yesterday, hardly anyone stuck to our line that we accept it’s a problem, but Leave’s solution of trashing the economy is no way to deal with it”.

This reveals clear coordination between Remain campaigns both in terms of messaging and campaign plans for individual days. It would have allowed numerous Remain campaigns to provide a unified message on key issues, as well as adapt their individual campaign activities to complement those of other Remain campaigns. Remember the Electoral Commission rules: “the lead campaign group must count all of the spending of all the campaigners it works together with towards its own limit”…

The combined spending of The In Campaign Ltd (Britain Stronger in Europe), Conservatives IN, Labour and Liberal Democrats during the control period was £14,496,806. Given the clear evidence of coordination between these campaigns, this means that Britain Stronger in Europe looks to have breached its spending limits by up to £7,496,806, more than double the legal limit allowed under Electoral Commission rules.

There has been a lot of attention in the Remain media about alleged coordination between the various Leave campaigns, yet no focus on Remainers breaching the rules. Imagine what the Electoral Commission would have done if they discovered that Vote Leave, Leave.EU and UKIP had a daily morning call to discuss campaign plans. Guido has a lot more to come on this. Stay tuned…

LibDems and Open Britain Fined For Referendum Spending Breaches

Remain campaigners have been fined by the Electoral Commission for breaking the rules on their spending returns:

The LibDems: failed to provide acceptable invoices or receipts for 80 payments with a total value of more than £80,000. They’ve been fined £18,000.

Open Britain: failed to deliver a complete and accurate spending return, including three missing invoices. They’ve been fined £1,250.

Guido will have more on Remain campaign referendum fraud in the coming weeks…

Electoral Commission Investigating Banks

The Electoral Commission says it is investigating Arron Banks in relation to donations and loans made during the referendum, specifically looking at Better for the Country Limited, the second largest donor to any of the referendum campaigns, which gave a total of £2,359,842.76 to a variety of leave-backing groups including Grassroots Out and UKIP. Banks is a director of Better for the Country Limited. The Commission described the scope of the probe:

Whether or not Better for the Country Limited was the true source of donations made to referendum campaigners in its name, or if it was acting as an agent. Whether the recipients of its donations were given the information required by PPERA in respect of the donor. What steps the recipients took to verify the identity and permissibility of Better for the Country Limited as a donor. Whether or not Mr Banks was the true source of loans reported by a referendum campaigner in his name. Whether those individuals and entities involved in that arrangement acted in accordance with PPERA. Whether any individual facilitated a transaction with a non-qualifying person.”

Looking for Roubles?

Banks has responded to the news characteristically, “Gosh I’m terrified”. The real problem for Banks is that he is currently trying to float other interests on the stock exchange. He won’t want a quasi-judicial investigation hanging over him…

Mystery of Owen’s Missing £13,000 of Crowdfunding

Owen Jones launched a crowdfunding campaign during the general election called the ‘Stop a Tory Landslide Fund’. The Crowdpac page used to solicit donations records that a healthy £28,258 was raised. The clear impression from that page and the accompanying video is that the cash was to be urgently put towards the campaign: “We will donate this money to Labour MPs who are under threat from the Tories to help them keep their seats… time is running out.” An impressive crowdfunding effort…

So imagine Guido’s surprise to see that Labour MPs received only £15,000 from Owen’s Stop a Tory Landslide Fund during the second quarter of the year. The official data, released by the Electoral Commission this morning, records only three donations from Stop a Tory Landslide. These were to Lancaster and Fleetwood, Nottingham South, and Ealing Central and Acton CLPs, who each received £5,000. What happened to the remaining £13,258?

Political donations are so closely monitored that there must be an innocent explanation for this. Maybe the missing money is yet to be donated, being held back for the next election. After all, Labour is in ‘permanent campaign’ mode – although donors were not told that by Owen at the time. Or maybe the crowdfunding page is overstating the actual amount raised. Perhaps Owen can help clear it up…

UPDATE: Guido is happy to report that Owen says “The rest was donated to the campaigns, not CLPs, of Clive Lewis and Rosena Allin-Khan, who’ve declared on Register of Members’ Interests.”

Electoral Commission Say No HSBC Cash Investigation

The Electoral Commission has announced it will not be taking any action against the Conservatives over an allegation that the party improperly took money from firm IPGL, allegedly backed by a loan from HSBC. The issue was raised by the SNP’s Roger Mullin in a letter to the Commission which was widely circulated on Twitter yesterday, to much fanfare from canary-brained lefties and hacks alike. It was the most manifestly bonkers conspiracy theory. That a privately owned company with a bank loan was laundering money for a publicly quoted bank. The Electoral Commission’s response says:

“Donors or lenders have no legal responsibility to report transactions to the Commission, therefore HSBC and IPGL did not and were not required to inform the Electoral Commission of these transactions… As we have not been presented with evidence that a breach of PPERA (Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 ) has occurred, we will not be taking further action in this matter.”

A total off-the-perch moment from those who thought this was a story…

Oh No, What a Shame: Lutfur Rahman Relaunch Bombs

Disgraced Lutfur Rahman’s attempt to return to politics is veering from disaster to disaster. Last week the Electoral Commission rejected his plans to register a new political party. Now it emerges Rahman will face a Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority tribunal. Rahman was found guilty of illegal practices by an Election Court in 2015; the SRA will argue that he brought disgrace on the legal profession. The Law Society Gazette reports:

“The SRA alleges Rahman thereby failed to uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice, failed to act with integrity and failed to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in him and in the provision of legal services.”

Rahman’s tribunal begins on 7th March and is listed for four days. Will he go the way of Phil Shiner and get kicked out of legal profession?

Electoral Commission Expenses Fraud Chief Ranted Against Tories

LOUISE

The Tories have sent the Electoral Commission a lawyer’s letter after it emerged the staffer who spearheaded the Thanet election expenses inquiry had made a string of anti-Tory comments. Louise Edwards is the Electoral Commission’s Head of Regulatory Compliance – it was her who provided a witness statement to the police on the Commission’s behalf in Thanet. Her Facebook page is full of anti-Tory rants, including:

“Louise Edwards cannot believe that she lives under a tory PM again! what is wrong with people?”

“just don’t understand what people were thinking – do they not remember the Tories before?”

“doesn’t want to live under a tory government”

The Tories say Edwards is guilty of making misleading statements to court. Will she survive the week?

Tories Demand Electoral Commission Investigates Labour, LibDems and SNP

Tory MP Charles Walker writes to the Electoral Commission demanding they investigate Hattie’s pink bus, the LibDem battle bus, the SNP chopper and Labour’s four undeclared battle busesCircular firing squad…[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Poll: May’s Deal or No Deal? Poll: May’s Deal or No Deal?
Labour’s Chequers Survival Kit Labour’s Chequers Survival Kit
Whips’ Patsies in Full Whips’ Patsies in Full
Tories Will Lose Votes if They Cross Brexit Red Lines Tories Will Lose Votes if They Cross Brexit Red Lines
Remain Used Same Spending Tactics as Leave But Far Worse Remain Used Same Spending Tactics as Leave But Far Worse
Paul Mason’s Coming Home to England Paul Mason’s Coming Home to England
Penny’s Sign Language at Despatch Box Penny’s Sign Language at Despatch Box
Lefties Disappointed as England Win Lefties Disappointed as England Win
SNP Plot to Ruin England Match SNP Plot to Ruin England Match
MEPs Vote to Reject Transparency MEPs Vote to Reject Transparency
Labour Reinstate Jared Labour Reinstate Jared