Electoral Commission investigate possible funding abuse by Vote Leave

The Electoral Commission is again investigating Vote Leave after whistle-blower Shahmir Sanni who worked for BeLeave came forward to say that when the sum of £625,000 was given to them by Vote Leave, it came with clear instructions as to how the money was to be used. If this is true, then it would be a criminal offence. Mr Sanni also asserted that most of the cash was spent on a firm linked to Cambridge Analytica.

Chris Wylie, former Director of Research at Cambridge Analytica, told MPs this week that the company’s actions during Brexit campaign were “a breach of the law”. Cambridge Analytica and its parent company provided analysis for Vote Leave ahead of the 2016 Brexit referendum. The research, Wylie went on to say, likely breached UK’s campaign financing laws and may have helped to swap the outcome.

I think there is a case to answer by Vote Leave, BeLeave and Cambridge Analytica but I am not sure that it would have changed the 52:48 percent result. A plausible argument is that Leavers misled voters by stating that there was no economic downside to Brexit, no risk to the UK single-market benefits and off course the £350 million a week promised to fund the NHS. All these points were and could have been further countered by Remainers as they had the time and funds available to do so. However, we do have strict laws regarding elections and the question is were they exploited by Vote Leave. 

Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey has written to Yvette Cooper, Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, calling on her to investigate the alleged illegal activity of Vote Leave.

Davey urges Cooper to: “immediately launch an enquiry” into the “serious accusations” against the Vote Leave campaign, including “deliberate overspending, illegal coordination and a significant cover-up of their relationship with the smaller campaign group BeLeave.”

Davey explains that allegations against Cambridge Analytica, and the legal opinions of Helen Mountfield QC and Clare Montgomery, only strengthen the case for an urgent investigation.

He addresses Cooper, explaining that “if true, these allegations call into question the very foundations of our democracy, and I have no doubt you will agree with me that full disclosure must be given to Parliament and the British public on this extremely serious matter.”

* Tahir Maher is a former Chair of South Central Liberal Democrats and lives in Wokingham.

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7 Comments

  • nvelope2003 29th Mar '18 - 8:09pm

    Listening to the Leave voters on the Today programme this morning it is clear that few if any would have voted differently even if it was clear the economy would collapse after Brexit. One after the other said that if their local factory closed because of Brexit they would be sad but would not have voted differently. Their only concern was that Britain should be a “free sovereign state making its own laws”. This is the result of 60 years of a ruling class and artistic elite who do not care about the wishes of ordinary people and think they know what is good for them. The EU, comprehensive schools etc and all the pet projects of the elite are hated and the only way to express that hatred is by voting leave. The idea that no one votes to be poor is wrong. People have admitted that they would and this is a nation which endured 6 years of war and national bankruptcy to defend its independence so why would they worry about merely losing their jobs, the Government will have to pay.

    This is one of a series of interviews with a similar outcome and I have heard it myself if I expressed a contrary view. Those parties who oppose the implementation of the referendum result will pay a heavy price, just as the Liberal Democrats are doing now, because even the Remainers are fed up with the endless politicking and want the matter settled as soon as possible.

    As one Leaver said, if Parliament or the Government overruled the Referendum vote no one would trust the Government again and many would stop voting.

  • nvelope2003 30th Mar '18 - 9:45am

    I did not say I supported Leave. I am merely setting out what leavers appear to believe. The Liberal Democrats have already paid a heavy price, except in Local Government by elections where the EU debate is irrelevant. There is a case for a referendum on the terms but I think the result will be the same unless it was held after the effects of leaving showed it to be a mistake.

  • Peter Watson 30th Mar '18 - 10:31am

    @Andy Daer “he declared that all the dodgy use of Facebook data actually had no impact on the voters”
    Given that Lib Dems frequently dismiss Brexiters as being elderly, ignorant, and harping back to days of yore, then I’d be amazed if any amount of shenanigans with that newfangled interweb thing had an impact on them. 😉

  • nvelope2003 30th Mar '18 - 8:41pm

    Andy Daer: I think many years of anti EU propaganda from the Sun, Mail, Express, Star and Telegraph is the most likely cause of the EU result. Nothing like as many people read The Guardian, Times and Mirror and not many young people read a paper at all as they get any news online and like most young people they do whatever is fashionable amongst their friends.
    I have heard employers who asked their employees to vote Remain as their business depended on staying in the EU but they still voted Leave. Maybe they were just fed up with a life of work and looked forward to life in a socialist Britain where work was optional with the Universal Basic Income or a job in the nationalised industries like the ones the Cubans are trying to get rid of.

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