Britain’s electoral commission on Friday slapped a fine of 70,000 pounds (79,000 euros) on the pro-Brexit movement Leave.EU for multiple irregularities in the financing of its campaign for the June 2016 referendum on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU). The Commission said in a press release that Leave.EU had incorrectly reported its spending during the referendum campaign, exceeded its spending limit and submitted incomplete and erroneous statements of expenditure and transactions. It added that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that the responsible person in Leave.Eu had committed penal offences and that it had reported the person, whom it did not name, to the London police.
Bob Posner, a member of the electoral commission, said these were serious infractions and that the amount of the penalty imposed on Leave.EU had been limited by the ceiling imposed on the Commission’s fines.
On the other hand, the Commission found no irregularities regarding the links between the movement and Cambridge Analytica (CA), the company accused of collecting the data of close to 90 million Facebook users and using it to political ends without their consent. Relations between CA and Leave.EU did not progress beyond exploratory contacts, the Commission indicated.
Leave.EU reacted by announcing that it would challenge the Commission’s finding in court.
The Leave.EU movement was founded by British millionaire Arron Banks in 2015 to advocate Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Supported by the former leader of the anti-Europe UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, it had not been chosen by the electoral commission to be the official campaign of the pro-Brexit camp.
The movement, which is highly present on social media, based its campaign on a strong anti-establishment sentiment and was decisive in the pro-Brexit vote at the referendum on the 23rd of June 2016. It is still active today, advocating a hard Brexit.