Vote Leave fined and referred to the police for breaking electoral law and overspending by around 7%

17 Jul 2018 – Excerpt from the Electoral Commission’s report Link

The Electoral Commission’s investigation found significant evidence of joint working between the lead campaigner, Vote Leave and another campaign group BeLeave. Evidence shows that BeLeave spent more than £675,000 with Aggregate IQ under a common plan with Vote Leave. This spending should have been declared by Vote Leave. It means Vote Leave exceeded its legal spending limit of £7 million by almost £500,000.

Vote Leave also returned an incomplete and inaccurate spending report, with nearly £234,501 reported incorrectly, and invoices missing for £12,849.99 of spending. Darren Grimes, the founder of the BeLeave campaign group, was found to have committed two offences and has been fined £20,000. Mr Grimes spent more than £675,000 on behalf of BeLeave, a non-registered campaigner that had a spending limit of £10,000. Further, he wrongly reported that same spending as his own.

The Commission has now referred both Mr David Halsall the responsible person for Vote Leave, and Mr Grimes to the Metropolitan Police in relation to false declarations of campaign spending. It has also shared its investigation files with the Metropolitan Police in relation to whether any persons have committed related offences which lie outside the Commission’s regulatory remit.

Electoral Commission director of political finance and regulation, Bob Posner, accused Vote Leave of trying to obstruct its investigation – which had uncovered “clear and substantial” evidence. “Vote Leave has resisted our investigation from the start, including contesting our right as the statutory regulator to open the investigation. It has refused to cooperate, refused our requests to put forward a representative for interview, and forced us to use our legal powers to compel it to provide evidence.”

Vote Leave’s chief executive, Matthew Elliott, had attacked the Commission for listening to “fantasists” and branded its upcoming report a “huge breach of natural justice”. See also TaxPayer’s Alliance smears Brexit whistleblower.

Source: Electoral Commission

Leave ‘very likely’ won EU referendum due to illegal overspending, says Oxford professor’s evidence to High Court

It is “very likely” that the UK voted for Brexit because of illegal overspending by the Vote Leave campaign, according to an Oxford professor’s evidence to the High Court. An exhaustive analysis of the campaign’s digital strategy concludes it reached “tens of millions of people” in its last crucial days, after its spending limit had been breached – enough to change the outcome.

Extract from the witness statement:

“Leave therefore won by 1,269,501 votes. A swing of 634,751 people would have been enough to secure victory for Remain. Over 80 million Facebook users saw the Vote Leave campaign’s ads on social media during the period of excess spending. Taking a conservative industry estimate that 10% of users would have clicked through, over 8 million people would have been directed to Leave campaign content that sensitive moment. Standard industry modelling would estimate that over 800,000 of those would have been converted and persuaded by the campaign.

It is important to remember that I have made some conservative assumptions about measuring the effects. First, these communication campaigns were targeting likely voters, and in the final two days, were running at a time when Remain was not conducting similar, matching, excessive spending campaign. It appears that the rival campaign, ‘Stronger In’, stopped its digital advertising on the last day of the campaign because it had reached its statutory cap in its spending. Second, this conclusion is based on Vote Leave data alone—better reach data from BeLeave’s portion of the campaign would allow for an additional estimate of how many more voters were reached. Vote Leave, as well as BeLeave, would together have reached tens of millions of people over the last few days of the campaign as a result of their digital advertising that was purchased with money above the allowed cap. Third, Vote Leave’s dynamic, iterative ad testing system would have achieved rising success rates over time. In this analysis I have assumed a conservative, flat rate of opinion conversion. Fourth, these findings are only based on Facebook advertising data. The supplementary video, search and display strategies would have reached additional voters. Finally, the cost of Facebook advertising decreased on the day of the referendum itself, meaning that Vote Leave’s would excess spending would have afforded them even more impressions than estimated in our conservative model.

On the basis of this evidence I consider it very likely that the referendum result was the outcome of excess spending by Vote Leave and/or Beleave.”

Dr Philip N Howard
Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, Professor of Internet Studies, Fellow at Balliol College at the University of Oxford.
An expert on the impact of new information technologies on public life.

Source: The Independent | Original Expert Witness Statement

Vote Leave fined for £40,000 breaking privacy laws

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Vote Leave Limited £40,000 for sending out thousands of unsolicited text messages in the run up to the 2016 EU referendum. An ICO investigation found that Vote Leave sent 196,154 text messages promoting the aims of the Leave campaign with the majority containing a link to its website. The investigation also found that Vote Leave was unable to provide evidence that the people who received the messages had given their consent; a key requirement of electronic marketing law.

“Spam texts are a real nuisance for millions of people and we will take action against organisations who disregard the law.Direct marketing is not just about selling products and services, it’s also about promoting an organisation’s aims and ideals. Political campaigns and parties, like any other organisations, have to comply with the law.” ~ Steve Eckersley, ICO Director of Investigations

Source: The ICO

Demonizing minorities for political gain

Straight out of the Nazi propaganda playbook, right wing tabloid newspapers including the Daily Mail, The Sun and Daily Express have consistently fanned the flames of religious and racial intolerance, creating an ideal environment of low level hatred and distrust of immigrants for the Leave campaigns to provide their simplistic and largely impossible solution. 

See full article here

Vote Leave ‘broke electoral law’ – whistleblowers respond

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