Electoral watchdog reopens Brexit vote funding investigation

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Nov 21, 2017
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Darren Grimes, a 23-year-old fashion student, was given £625,000 in the days before the Brexit referendum

Mike Kemp/Getty Images

Electoral law officials have reopened an investigation into whether a fashion student breached campaign funding rules during the Brexit referendum.

The Electoral Commission said yesterday that it would investigate allegations that Darren Grimes, the Vote Leave campaign and the Veterans for Britain group breached campaign finance regulations.

A review of investigations by the commission had been carried out this year and resulted in no action being taken.

However, the commission said in a statement yesterday that “new information has come to light which, when considered alongside the information obtained previously, has given the commission reasonable grounds to suspect an offence may have been committed”.

Commission investigators will look at allegations that Grimes and the two organisations produced incorrect accounts of donations and expenditure. It will also investigate whether Vote Leave exceeded its spending limit in the referendum.

Records show that Vote Leave gave Grimes, 23, £625,000 in the days before the poll, making him one of the best-funded unofficial campaigners of the referendum.

Bob Posner, the commission’s legal counsel, said that there was a “significant public interest in being satisfied that the facts are known about Vote Leave’s spending on the campaign, particularly as it was a lead campaigner with a greater spending limit than any other campaigners on the Leave side”.

He continued: “Legitimate questions over the funding provided to campaigners risks causing harm to voters’ confidence in the referendum and it is therefore right that we investigate.”

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