Brexit news: Vote Leave turn table on Electoral Commission | Politics | News – UK



The challenge will put the reputation of the Electoral Commission under the spotlight amid fears that it may be part of deliberate attempts to delegitimise the historic vote to Leave the EU in 2016.

Remain lost despite having £9 million of taxpayers’ money ploughed into its campaign by the Government.

The commission has refused to follow up complaints about spending on the Remain side despite documented evidence handed over by former cabinet minister Priti Patel.

And it has been revealed that senior figures in the commission have openly suported Remain and expressed their criticism of Brexit suggesting that it is biased.

Sir John Holmes, the body’s chairman, expressed his distaste for Brexit in a speech, where he said that he “regretted the result of the referendum” and complained about “the panoply of Eurosceptic nonsense about the EU” heard during the campaign.

Speaking ahead of the publication of the commission’s report, Mr Elliott, said it had concluded that Vote Leave exceeded spending limits by making a donation to another Brexit-backing group.

He accused the EC of a “huge breach of natural justice”, alleging that the watchdog had not listened to Vote Leave’s version of events.

If found guilty of breaking electoral law, the campaign could face a hefty fine and anti-Brexit organisations could seize on the findings to boost their cause.

Mr Elliott said: “Their initial conclusion is that we have overspent, that a donation we made to another group during the course of the campaign was incorrect, we shouldn’t have made that donation.”

Allegations against the official Brexit campaign centre on a donation of almost £680,000 made by the campaign to a youth Brexit group called BeLeave.

It is alleged the money was actually used for the benefit of Vote Leave, to pay data firm Aggregate IQ for targeted messaging services.

If this cash was recorded as Vote Leave expenditure, it would take the campaign’s spending over the £7 million limit, raising the prospect that electoral law had been breached.

Mr Elliott told Sky News: “[The EC] listened to these, quite frankly, marginal characters who came out in March, and listened to their stories, but haven’t had evidence from Vote Leave side of things.

“I think it is a huge breach of natural justice that they haven’t wanted to listen to our opinions and our story and we were the people running the campaign.”

In an interview with the BBC, he said: “I believe we acted both within the letter of the law and also the spirit of the law and the spirit of how you should conduct a campaign.

“We got the designation, Vote Leave, as the officially designated campaign for Leave, on the basis that we would be working with other groups – we wouldn’t just solely be working on our own, we would work alongside other groups and encourage them, and encourage their activities.”

Mr Gove, who was the campaign co-chairman during the referendum alongside Labour’s Gisela Stuart, said he had not seen the report but indicated that the EC’s findings could be challenged in the courts.

“The report itself, I think, is going to be challenged legally,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“If it’s going to be challenged legally, if it is going to go through the courts, it would be inappropriate for me – not having read the report – to offer a commentary on it.”



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