Pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum under investigation for election spending
Election watchdogs have launched an investigation into whether pro-Jeremy Corbyn campaign group Momentum broke election spending rules.
The probe by the Electoral Commission will consider whether the grassroots organisation busted spending limits for an unauthorised non-party campaigner at the June general election.
It will also consider whether Momentum provided inaccurate information about its donations and whether other key paperwork was missing.
Momentum was a major force in the general election campaign which saw Labour win an extra 21 Commons seats and increase its vote share by 10.3 percentage points.
It mobilised activists on the ground using innovative online tools and created viral social media content that was shared widely. But it reported expenditure of just £38,743 ahead of the 8 June vote.
The political finance director at the Electoral Commission said questions over the group’s compliance with spending rules “risks causing harm to voters’ confidence in elections”.
“There is significant public interest in us investigating Momentum to establish the facts in this matter and whether there have been any offences,” he added.
“Once 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 Electoral Commission did mull an investigation into Momentum over donations in 2016 but in the end decided to drop the issue due to “the absence of credible evidence”.
Campaign groups which are not affiliated to a party can spend up to £31,980 in England, £3,540 in Scotland, £2,400 in Wales, and £1,080 in Northern Ireland during an election period.
Momentum is an unaffiliated supporter of the Labour party established to support Mr Corbyn after he became labour Leader in 2015.
It was born out of the Jeremy for Labour movement which campaigned for the Islington North MP in his first leadership bid.
But it has faced accusations of trying to purge moderate Labour members and deslect sitting MPs and councillors who do not subscribe to its views.
Numerous senior officials have subsequently found work at the top of the Labour party while its founder Jon Lansman has launched a bid to sit on the Labour National Executive Committee.
In response, a Momentum spokesperson said: "Momentum put a lot of effort and resources into detailed budgeting and financial procedures during the election to ensure full compliance.
"Our election campaign was delivered on a low budget because it tapped into the energy and enthusiasm of tens of thousands of volunteers across the country.
“Much of the Electoral Commission investigation refers to administrative errors that can be easily rectified.
"We have a good working relationship with the Electoral Commission, and will fully comply with the investigation going forward.”