Electoral Commission sued in high court over Brexit

2nd April 2018 / United Kingdom
Electoral Commission sued in high court over Brexit

By TruePublica: A legal NGO is ramping up its efforts and is to sue Britain’s Electoral Commission in the High Court over Brexit. In the light of recent allegations, it’s argument is that the public body allowed the Vote Leave campaign to spend more money than permitted by law.


The Good Law Project has initiated proceedings in the High Court to establish whether the Electoral Commission failed in its duty to uphold UK election law during the EU Referendum.”


The Good Law Project, an organization whose stated aim is to use the law to deliver a progressive society, on Monday said the case involves a £625,000 payment made by Vote Leave to one of its “outreach groups” in the run-up to the Brexit referendum last year.

It says that if properly accounted for, the donation would take the campaign’s spending way beyond its legal limit.

The Electoral Commission concluded some time ago that the payment did not breach its guidelines. This is also confirmed in a Guardian report just last week.

Jo Maugham QC, Founder and Director of the Good Law Project, said:

If our democracy is to function properly the Electoral Commission must do its job carefully and diligently. I cannot see how any public body looking at these facts and taking the law into account could conclude that Vote Leave had not overspent.


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An Electoral Commission spokesperson said: “It would not be appropriate to comment on an ongoing legal matter.

The commission has until November 13 to respond to the legal proceedings, the Good Law Project said.


The Guardian also reported last week, that electoral spending limits were indeed breached via – “A whistleblower who worked for the official Vote Leave campaign has broken cover to raise concerns that the masterminds behind the 2016 vote – including key figures now working for Theresa May in Downing Street – may have flouted referendum spending rules and then attempted to destroy evidence. The allegations, from former volunteer Shahmir Sanni, are detailed in an interview in the Observer and supported by a mass of documents and files that he has passed to the Electoral Commission and the police.”

The Guardian asserts that Vote Leave and Cambridge Analytica are indeed linked. This being the case, it would confirm that different campaigns illegally teamed up to influence the EU Referendum.

The paper also asserts that most of the £625,000 donation went to a Canadian data company called AggregateIQ, which has links to Cambridge Analytica, the firm that used harvested Facebook data to build a political targeting system that has caused a political scandal that does not look like it is going away any time soon.

In the meantime, The Telegraph has an exclusive yesterday that reports that “confidence in the elections watchdog is evaporating as it emerged that almost half of its board have made public statements criticising the pro-Brexit campaign or backing calls for the result to be overturned, despite strict impartiality rules.

The Telegraph alleges that these board members “made pronouncements on Brexit since the referendum – all of them backing Remain.”

The Channel4 investigation that linked up with the Guardian finds that the Brexit campaign was totally illegal and that Vote Leave cheated in the 2016 referendum. Documents seen by Channel 4 News show multiple links between AIQ and Cambridge Analytica’s parent company SCL.

In an interview with Channel 4 News, Shahmir Sanni, who helped run the BeLeave offshoot campaign, said that “people have been lied to,” adding: “I know… that Vote Leave cheated” and that “the EU Referendum “wasn’t legitimate”.

In January The Independent reported that “A fresh vote on whether Britain should leave the European Union would overturn the result of the Brexit referendum, new polling has found.” It found 55 per cent would opt to remain in the EU and 45 per cent to leave if there was another vote. The original vote was 52 per cent to 48 per cent in favour of Brexit.

Business Insider, Forbes and PoliticoEU all report the same with varying different poll results in percentage terms since January this year.

This raises a serious problem. If taxpayers money is being used to fund the very public body designed to protect democracy is found to be untrustworthy, through misrepresentation or otherwise – and Brexit was illegally influenced, then it is indeed not a valid result.

If the people’s faith in the principles of democracy dims, then whatever happens with regard to a Brexit, hard or soft – this story is never going to be allowed to die by political commentators for decades to come.









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