The Electoral Commission has reopened an investigation into Vote Leave’s EU referendum spending.
The campaign paid £625,000 to clear bills allegedly run up by university student Darren Grimes with a digital agency days ahead of last June’s vote … who set up a group called BeLeave, to give young pro-Brexit campaigners a voice during last year’s referendum.
As a registered campaigner, he was allowed to spend up to £700,000. He initially spent very little but in the 10 days leading up to the 23 June vote he ran up a £675,315 bill with AggregateIQ Data, a Canadian marketing firm that specialises in political campaigns.
Money to clear the bill was not given to Mr Grimes but sent directly to Aggregate IQ by Vote Leave…
Vote Leave would have gone over its campaign spending limit if it had spent the money it donated on behalf of Mr Grimes itself. [BBC]
The question is whether this sort of cycling of money via third parties is a legitimate way to avoid spending limits. But we do already know about a pattern of rules breaking by pro-Brexit campaigners:
- Anti-EU campaigners fined for breaking law over referendum campaign
- 11 anti-EU campaign groups struck off for breaking referendum rules
- Two Brexit campaigners fined for breaking law during European referendum
- Yet another Brexit campaigner fined for breaking the law
- And it’s another Brexit campaigner fined for breaking law over European referendum
UPDATE: The investigation found that Vote Leave broke the law. Fines were issued and the police called in.
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