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…

LibDems: Deceiving Here!

CLEGG-SPEND

On Wednesday evening Nick Clegg’s lawyers sent Guido a three-page letter demanding we take down our story Nick Clegg Cooked the Books for £17,652 or else they would sue. They also threatened The Telegraph for following up our story (who complied).

Subsequently Labour and Tory supporters in Sheffield Hallam have put in complaints to the police. Privately Labour suspect the true spend in Sheffield Hallam was over six figures – way in excess of the legal limits.

Last night we cited just one example of missing transport costs going undeclared. Zero transport costs were declared by Clegg, yet the party advertised that it would pay the travel and accommodation costs of activists in Sheffield Hallam. Having been caught red-handed, how could they spin this away? The LibDem press office claimed the transport costs did not need to be declared because they were individually below the threshold for declarations* (£50). Yet they admit that the payments totaled more than £50. deceiving+here

The LibDem press office imaginatively explained away the missing transport cost declarations by dividing the spend per capita and claiming it was therefore now below the threshold for declarations. This is just ridiculous. As Oliver Cooper pointed out:

Let’s see what a judge thinks of that…

UPDATE: *There is some suggestion (see the featured comment below) that even this is incorrect. The £50 registration threshold apparently applies to donations not expense declarations.

Cat Smith’s Campaign Organiser’s Cover-Up Busted

BEN+SINGLETON
Guido’s revelations
last week about Corbynista Labour MP Cat Smith’s mysterious election expenses exposed one of the most serious individual cases of alleged expenses fraud so far. Unlike the systematic and centrally focused allegations surrounding the SNP’s chopper, or Labour and the Tories‘ national battle bus spends, Cat Smith’s returns represent an individual candidate conspiring to conceal a series of overspends in a closely fought marginal constituency. If found guilty Smith personally, not a party machine, will bear the responsibility

One of the key false declarations made by Smith is that her campaign organiser, Ben Singleton, spent just 12.5% (around four and a half days) of the short campaign working for her, allowing her to deduct 87.5% of his salary costs off her final election expenses declaration. Guido has already uncovered substantial evidence demonstrating that Singleton worked far more than this on her election campaign. Now, after an extensive search, Smith’s 12.5% claim looks even less credible…

Singleton realised Guido was investigating him and guiltily deleted his Twitter feed from public view – so we found alternative evidence sources. Pictures uncovered from a series of third-party social media posts show Singleton present on Smith’s campaign for at least 10 different days during the short campaign, which lasted just 39 days between March 30 and May 7. It is hard to find an event of hers in which he wasn’t involved. Several social media posts (including Singleton himself registering as attending two of Smith’s campaign events) show that the organiser was more involved than Smith has previously claimed. One of those events was a pro-Cat Smith rally featuring Eddie Izzard, also undeclared…

Making false declarations is a criminal offence, it could lead to her election being invalidated and Cat Smith going to prison. The evidence photos show Singleton alongside Labour grandees Tristram Hunt MP, Maria Eagle MP, and Theresa Griffin MEP. Will they be willing to testify on Comrade Smith’s behalf?

More to follow…

Cat Smith Expenses Cover Up

A very interesting development for the police investigating Labour MP Cat Smith’s election expenses. Cat claimed her election organiser spent just 12.5% of his time on her campaign – she would have bust her spending limit if his entire salary had been declared.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Shapps Throws Feldman Under the Battle Bus

The Tory election expenses scandal is ramping up a notch. Grant Shapps made it crystal clear on the Daily Politics which of the two Tory co-chairman was responsible:

“I can tell you absolutely that compliance was not my area… compliance wasn’t my side of things, campaigning side was my side of things but not the money or the finance”

Asked who was responsible, Shapps replied: “Other people at CCHQ”.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Electoral Commission: We Can’t Stop Expense Fiddles

Crick Electoral

The impotent Electoral Commission have pleaded for greater authority to investigate election spending fiddles in the wake of the Tory overspend exposed by Michael Crick:

“The Electoral Commission has called again today for greater fairness and clarity around the current regulatory framework for candidates at elections.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Electoral Commission Not Down With the Kids

Untitled-2

In an effort to get out the yoof vote, the Electoral Commission has announced that they will be ‘texting’ the young people to let them know that they can register to vote ‘online‘. The Commission are using a joint venture by the UK mobile operators EE, O2 and Vodafone called ‘Weve’, that will allow them to target  18-24 year olds with their futuristics adverts.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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