V-EC Day As Electoral Commission Finally Defeated

Today is of course VE day, enjoy the celebrations. Darren Grimes and Alan Halsall will be celebrating more than most today, because it sees final victory for them over the biased Electoral Commission. Both Darren Grimes of BeLeave and Alan Halsall of Vote Leave have been written to by the Metropolitan Police confirming it will not be acting on allegations made against them by the Electoral Commission and various Remain campaigners. This marks the very end of a three year ordeal for both of them. Congratulations!

Here’s a timeline of the three year ordeal:

  • 23 June 2016 – UK votes to leave the EU by a margin of 52% to 48%
  • August 2016 – Electoral Commission investigates Vote Leave’s spending for the first time, but finds no evidence of wrongdoing
  • February 2017 – Electoral Commission investigates Vote Leave’s spending for the second time, but again finds no evidence of wrongdoing
  • October 2017 – The Good Law Project, led by Jolyon Maugham, begins proceedings to seek a judicial review against the Electoral Commission’s decision not to open a formal investigation into the spending of Vote Leave and Darren Grimes
  • November 2017 – Electoral Commission investigates Vote Leave spending for a third time
  • July 2018 – The Electoral Commission concludes its investigation and determines that Vote Leave exceeded its campaign spending limit due to joint spending under a ‘common plan’ with Darren Grimes/BeLeave. The Commission fined and referred both Alan Halsall, the responsible person for Vote Leave, and Mr Grimes to the Metropolitan Police
  • July 2018 – Guido helps launch a crowdfunder to enable Darren to fight the Electoral Commission
  • August 2019 – Darren Grimes successfully appeals against the Electoral Commission’s fine of £20,000
  • May 2020 – the Metropolitan Police drop their investigation into Alan Halsall and Darren Grimes

Jolyon, Carole, and the biased Electoral Commission have a lot to answer for. As Vote Leave’s Paul Stephenson puts it “we wish them well“…

mdi-timer 8 May 2020 @ 10:46 8 May 2020 @ 10:46 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Watch Live: Boris’s Vote Leave Election Reunion

Speaking from the same room that used to housed Vote Leave…

mdi-timer 29 November 2019 @ 11:18 29 Nov 2019 @ 11:18 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Vote Leave Reunited: Gisela Backs Boris

Vote Leave chair, and former Labour Minister, Gisela Stuart has formally defected this morning to back Boris; and will join him and Michael Gove in London today for his latest Rally. Unfortunately, Guido presumes there’ll be one noticeable team absence: the big red bus…

Gisela joins Kate Hoey in saying Boris represents “the best way forward for traditional Labour voters like me and the best way to heal the country.”

Stuart isn’t the only former Labour MP to have formally come out as backing Boris since the major announcements by Jon Woodcock and Iain Austin, as well as Tom Harris. Now former Scottish Labour MP Michael McCann is also appearing on leaflets in Chris Grayling’s constituency.

After previously only having decried Corbyn, the former MP is now urging voters that “a vote for anyone else is a vote for Corbyn”. He’s not the only Scot who’s totally given up on Labour if latest polling is to be believed…

mdi-timer 29 November 2019 @ 08:40 29 Nov 2019 @ 08:40 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Electoral Commission Grilled Over Darren Grimes Cock-Up

The Electoral Commission had to face two Parliamentary Select Committees today after their humiliating defeat in court by Darren Grimes last Friday. Craig Mackinlay – who knows Electoral Commission incompetence only too well, took Chief Executive Bob Posner to task over their decision to relentlessly pursue Grimes while failing to fully investigate Remain campaign spending irregularities. Posner mumbles something about following those “strands” and “maybe” fining a couple of groups. They did nothing of the sort

Instead Posner makes clear that the Electoral Commission are still considering appealing against the Darren Grimes judgement despite having already spent half a million of taxpayers’ cash on the case, although Posner points out that part of that was on the Vote Leave aspects of the case. The High Court having previously found that the Electoral Commission caused the problem in the first place by giving Vote Leave incorrect legal advice

It’s worth looking at the specifics of the Grimes case. Guido was in the courtroom:

  • The Commission’s case against Grimes himself was nothing to do with the spending limit issue around Vote Leave. So they went after him on a technicality instead…
  • The Commission’s first charge was that he had not filled a form in correctly to register as an ‘unincorporated association’ rather than an individual. An issue they didn’t flag at all in their first two investigations into Grimes – which found nothing.
  • They then slapped a second offence notice on him for subsequently submitting an “over-complete” spending return. Kafka-esque.
  • The judge found their form itself was highly confusing and that Grimes had filled out the majority correctly, and to the extent he hadn’t it didn’t matter. The dispute centred around a single box…
  • The judge also found that the Commission had essentially constructed their case the wrong way round. In effect they assumed Grimes’s guilt first and then challenged him to prove his innocence beyond reasonable doubt.
  • This led them to exclude a large amount of evidence in Grimes’ favour. Precisely the opposite of how the law is meant to work.
  • The judge also ruled that even if they hadn’t been wrong on the offences themselves, the maximum £20,000 fine was still disproportionate. It was vexatious.

The full judgment is yet to be published, but the outcome of the case was clear. The Electoral Commission weren’t just defeated, their whole case against Grimes was thoroughly debunked. Their QC James Eadie didn’t even bother to turn up to hear the judgment. The fact that their apparatchiks are now considering dragging it out and blowing even more taxpayers’ money just to try to save face is beyond belief…

mdi-timer 23 July 2019 @ 19:10 23 Jul 2019 @ 19:10 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Gisela Stuart Reminds Remain That They Spent Far More Money

Former Vote Leave Chair Gisela Stuart tells Marr: “at every stage [Vote Leave] were rule compliant according to the legal advice we were given at that time” – a point upheld by the High Court last year who found that the Electoral Commission had given Vote Leave incorrect legal advice before the referendum. Not that it has stopped the Electoral Commission from punishing Vote Leave in Kafka-esque fashion for following their own advice…

As Stuart and this handy chart remind, Remain spent over 40% more than Leave did overall – before you even count the £9 million Government leaflet and all the civil service work for Remain. And they still lost…

mdi-timer 31 March 2019 @ 12:08 31 Mar 2019 @ 12:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
“Vindictive” ICO Hits Vote Leave With £40,000 Fine For Not Having Data They Agreed to Delete

The state’s war of attrition against Brexit is continuing to grind on with the Information Commissioner’s Office today taking the decision to slap Vote Leave with a monster fine of £40,000. The ICO’s justification for the fine was that Vote Leave had violated data protection laws because were unable to prove that text messages sent to voters had been done with their consent. The reason Vote Leave were unable to prove it was specifically because they deleted their entire database after the vote as agreed with the ICO before the referendum. A truly Kafka-esque perversion of justice…

The ICO’s best practice guidelines say that data controllers should delete data once it is no longer serving the purpose for which is collected, hence why Vote Leave specified in their data policy that they would delete all the data after the referendum. Meanwhile the Remain campaign – now in its third different incarnation as People’s Vote – kept its entire database from the referendum campaign and has continued to pump out messages to its database on an almost daily basis since the referendum. Funnily enough the regulators don’t have a problem with that…

A Vote Leave spokesman slammed the “vindictive” decision from the ICO, saying that it just “shows their desperation to pin something on us after we had rebutted all of their other ludicrous theories”:

“Fewer than 20 people made complaints about the 196,000 text messages we sent during the referendum campaign. This is far lower than the commercial texting campaigns who have previously been fined by the ICO. Vote Leave was operating in a highly political environment, which makes false allegations much more likely. It is therefore highly likely that the tiny number of people who complained to the ICO were doing so for political purposes.

“The ICO took over two years to bring these complaints to our attention, when they could easily have done so in the summer of 2016. Unlike the Stronger In campaign, we deleted all of our data after the referendum as agreed with the ICO, so their decision to prosecute us now feels particularly vindictive.

“Both during and after the referendum, Vote Leave complied with both the letter and spirit of the law. We have exchanged 46 letters with the ICO since the referendum, most of them refuting conspiracy theories peddled by people unhappy with the referendum result. To be fined £40,000 for fewer than 20 complaints which they were aware of over two years ago, shows their desperation to pin something on us after we had rebutted all of their other ludicrous theories.”

Brexiteers who think that Brexit will somehow come out more to their liking after a two-year delay or a second referendum only need to look at the way Brexit campaigners have been relentlessly pursued since the referendum to see how it will play out in reality. It’s now or never for Brexit…

mdi-timer 19 March 2019 @ 14:16 19 Mar 2019 @ 14:16 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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