UK court rules against electoral watchdog in spending argument

UK court rules against electoral watchdog in spending argument

Britain’s electoral regulator misinterpreted the spending law when it allowed the main Brexit campaign to donate to a smaller group during the 2016 referendum

Britain’s electoral regulator misinterpreted the spending law when it allowed the main Brexit campaign to donate to a smaller, aligned group during the 2016 referendum campaign, London’s High Court has ruled.

Britain’s officially designated Brexit campaign group, Vote Leave, said the Electoral Commission had told the group it could donate to other Leave campaigners without having to count it against its own referendum expenses.

But the High Court found that the Electoral Commission “misinterpreted the definition of ‘referendum expenses’” in a way which was “inconsistent with both the language and the purpose of the legislation” in giving the advice.

Jo Maugham, a lawyer and campaigner on the winning side of the case, said the decision was “coruscating” for the Commission, and that the main Remain campaign had not been given the same rights to make donations.

“What is now clear is that the Electoral Commission unlawfully tilted the playing field in the Referendum,” he said in a statement.

Vote Leave was separately fined by the Electoral Commission in July for co-ordinating its activities with the smaller campaign group, BeLeave, to pay digital services from Aggregate IQ, thereby exceeding spending limits. The campaign group refuted the findings.

The Electoral Commission said Friday’s ruling showed the court had backed up its July findings.

Published: by Radio NewsHub
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