Brexit Party at ‘high risk’ of taking ‘impermissible’ donations, warns elections watchdog
The Brexit Party is at "high risk" of accepting illegal donations from overseas, Britain’s elections watchdog has warned.
The Electoral Commission said the online fundraising structure used by Nigel Farage's new party meant there was a “high and on-going risk” of them accepting cash which broke the rules.
The party, which has only been going for a few months, won last month's European elections by hoovering up support from voters fed up at the Government's failure to deliver Brexit.
Officials from the Electoral Commission carried out a probe after concerns were raised that the party could be accepting donations from abroad.
In a report published on Wednesday, the watchdog said: "We have concluded that the fundraising structure adopted by the party leaves it open to a high and on-going risk of receiving and accepting impermissible donations.
"We have made recommendations that will, if implemented by the party, achieve and maintain robust procedures for receiving funds and help it comply with its legal requirements.
Louise Edwards, the Electoral Commission's director of regulation, said: “It is legitimate for any political party or campaigner to adopt a fundraising strategy that focuses on raising small sums.
“Our visit to the Brexit Party has enabled us to make specific recommendations to the party that will support it to meet its legal responsibilities when it comes to receiving funds.
“Should it fail to meet those responsibilities, this will be considered in line with our Enforcement Policy.”
The commission said parties should request as much information as possible from people offering funds online, to ensure that all payments are from "a permissible source".
A spokesman for the Brexit Party said: "The Electoral Commission have confirmed that our method of fundraising is legitimate and has been adopted by other political parties and campaigners.
"They haven’t found any examples of infringement of Electoral Commission rules."