Electoral Commission launches probe into Leave.EU referendum spending
Pro-Brexit campaign group Leave.EU is facing an investigation over whether it broke spending rules during last year's referendum campaign.
The group, funded by businessman Arron Banks and fronted by former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, was instrumental in the successful campaign to leave the EU.
Although it did not win the designation to become the official Leave campaign, Leave.EU organised a number of high-profile events in the weeks leading up to 23 June.
Mr Banks said he would be "vigorously defending" the claims against the group.
A statement from the Electoral Commission said there was reason to believe the organisation had committed an offence, although it would not give a timeframe for the forthcoming probe.
A Commission spokesperson said: "The Electoral Commission has begun an investigation into Leave.EU’s EU Referendum spending return.
"This followed an assessment which concluded that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that potential offences under the law may have occurred.
"The investigation is focused on whether one or more donations – including of services – accepted by Leave.EU was impermissible; and whether Leave.EU’s spending return was complete.
“The time taken to complete an investigation varies on a case-by-case basis. Once the investigation is complete, the Commission will decide whether any breaches have occurred and, if so, what further action may be appropriate, in line with its Enforcement Policy. The outcome of concluded cases can be seen on the Commission’s website."
But Mr Banks hit back, pointing out that the Remain campaign had been allowed to spend millions of taxpayers' money on pro-EU campaign materials.
"The Electoral Commission allowed the Government to spend £11 million on a pack of Remain lies. We will be vigorously defending their allegations," he said.