Election watchdog slaps far-right Britain First with £44,000 fine for 'multiple breaches' of electoral law

Posted On: 
16th July 2019

The far-right Britain First group have been hit with an eye-watering £44,200 by the elections watchdog for multiple breaches of electoral law.

Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen were banned from Facebook after breaching the sites policies against hate speech
Credit: 
PA

The Electoral Commission levied the fine after a "thorough investigation" into the group's finances found "multiple breaches of the law".

The group, which unsuccessfully contested by-elections to the Commons and European Parliament, failed to meet "basic requirements" including failing to register over £200,000 of donations and not keeping accurate financial records of its transactions throughout 2016.

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The watchdog's investigation also found the group had failed to have their 2016 accounts checked by a qualified auditor, and had refused to comply with an Electoral Commission request for information about their finances.

In 2018, Britain First leader Paul Golding and deputy Jayda Fransen were sentenced to 18 weeks and 36 weeks respectively for anti-Muslim hate crimes.

Last year, the official Britain First Facebook page, along with the profiles of Mr Golding and Ms Fransen were banned from the social media platform for repeatedly breaching the site's rules on hate speech.

The former party, which de-registered in November 2017,  has agreed a payment arrangement with the watchdog.

Louise Edwards, director of regulation at the Electoral Commission, said: "Today's announcement concludes a thorough investigation into Britain First's financial affairs which has resulted in us finding multiple breaches of the law.

"Registered political parties must provide full, accurate data on their donations and accounts so that voters can see where their money comes from.

"Britain First's inability to meet certain basic requirements led to a disappointing lack of transparency into the party's finances."

She added: "The party's failure to comply with a statutory notice is a serious offence and shows a disregard for the law.

"Throughout our investigation, we saw little to suggest that Britain First appreciated that if it wants to contest elections, it must meet its legal responsbilities, which is why we have imposed the penalites that we have."