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Leave.EU fined £70000 over Brexit spending

Leave.EU fined £70000 over Brexit spending

In a letter to Ms Bilney in April, the watchdog gave notice that it found the campaign guilty of four breaches, which in turn meant the spending return she submitted had been inaccurate and incomplete.

The findings come after the Electoral Commission completed its investigation into Leave.EU and it had exceeded its statutory spending limit during the 2016 referendum by at least 10%.

This designation instead went to the rival Vote Leave group, which was allowed to spend up to £7m during the final weeks of the referendum campaign.

It mentioned providers the group obtained from USA marketing campaign strategists Goddard Gunster weren't included within the spending return when they need to have been and it inaccurately reported three loans it had obtained. This included a lack of transparency and incorrect reporting around who provided the loans, the dates the loans were entered into, the repayment date and the interest rate.

"We did not find evidence that [Leave.EU] received services during that period of time", Claire Basset, chief executive of the Electoral Commission, told BBC Radio 4.

Damian Collins, chair of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, said it would question question the Electoral Commission on Leave.EU's activities next week, with Banks and campaign chief Andy Wigmore appearing next month.

- Leave.EU failed to include in its referendum spending return, spending of 77,380 pounds in fees paid to the company Better for the Country Limited as its campaign organiser. These are serious offences.

Claims the fine is politically motivated are unfounded, according to Basset: "Matters about whether a referendum needs to be called or should be called are very important matters, but they are matters for the parliament, not us".

In February 2017, through its proactive monitoring work, the Commission became aware of suggestions that services had been provided to Leave.EU by the United States data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica and the U.S. campaign strategist firm Goddard Gunster. Vote Leave, official Brexit campaign, is also being investigated for a possible breach of spending limits.

However, the commission pledged to keep this aspect of the investigation under review in case further evidence about Cambridge Analytica comes to light.

- Leave.EU did not correctly report the receipt of three regulated transactions from Arron Banks, totalling 6 million pounds. Leave.EU did not fail to report referendum spending on services from Cambridge Analytica nor did we receive services via a donation.

Did the Electoral Commission find any links between Leave.EU and the activities of Cambridge Analytica?

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