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Thu, 16 July 2020

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Official EU Remain campaign and Lib Dems fined thousands by election watchdogs

Official EU Remain campaign and Lib Dems fined thousands by election watchdogs

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Election watchdogs have fined the official Remain campaign and the Liberal Democrats thousands of pounds for breaching election spending rules in the EU referendum.

The Lib Dems were slapped with an £18,000 penalty for failing to submit correct spending returns for some £80,000 of funds it spent urging voters not to support Leave.

Official Remain campaign Britain Stronger in Europe - since re-named Open Britain - was also hit with a £1,250 fine for incorrect spending returns.

It is not the first time the Lib Dems have been hit with a mammoth fine for their electoral practices.

The party got the maximum £20,000 penalty a year ago for failing to declare more than 300 spending items in the 2015 general election.

Bob Posner, the director of political finance at the Electoral Commission, said it was “disappointing” the Lib Dems had again fallen short of reporting requirements.

“The major political parties must ensure their internal governance is sufficiently invested in and resourced so they can be sure of meeting their legal obligations,” he said.

“Where the rules are not followed, transparency is lost which is not in the public interest or as parliament intended.”

The watchdog said Open Britain had already paid its fines and the Lib Dems had until the 3 January to cough up the cash.

It comes after the Electoral Commission launched a fresh probe into whether the official Leave campaign broke spending limits in the referendum.

Questions have been raised over hundreds of thousands of pounds Vote Leave gave to a fashion student who then handed the cash over to a data analytics firm. 

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