Farage’s Brexit group fined just £400 for inaccurate referendum spending return

Campaigners said a £400 fine was not a deterrent.

The Electoral Commission has ruled that the ‘Grassroots Out’ campaign failed to submit an accurate referendum spending return and has fined it £400.

Grassroots Out was a splinter group from the main Leave campaigns and was led by politicians like the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage and Richard Tice, Tories Liam Fox and Peter Bone and Labour’s Kate Hoey.

Campaign groups in elections are supposed to report what they’ve spent on campaigning, on things like venue hire, leaflets and staffing.

An Electoral Comission spokesperson told Left Foot Forward that Grassroots Out failed to accurately report their £2,700 spending on hiring the Victoria Hall in Stoke for a campaign rally on April 18 2016.

Campaign group Unlock Democracy said a £400 fine was not a sufficient deterrent. Their spokesperson Sarah Clarke said:

“When fines for rule-breaking are so low they aren’t a deterrent against breaking the rules, they’re a cost of doing business. Political finance transparency underpins elections being free and fair, so that voters have the full picture of who is bankrolling parties and campaigns, and how funds are being spent.”

“Elections must be fought on a level playing field, because if we don’t have free and fair elections then we don’t have a functioning democracy. But current election law is out of date and not fit for purpose. Election law needs a radical overhaul that sees the Electoral Commission given the power to impose proportionate fines and crack down on the dark money pumping through UK politics.”

Other referendum campaigners fined for spending offences include Leave.EU and Vote Leave and, on the Remain side, the Liberal Democrats and open Britain.

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