14 Feb 2013
Reverend George Hargreaves, former treasurer of the Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship”, has been fined £4,125 by the Electoral Commission, the independent party and election finance watchdog, for failing to provide the party’s 2011 accounts.
Reverend Hargreaves was fined £1,125 for failing to meet the deadline for delivering the accounts by 7 July 2012.
He was given a further, final opportunity to deliver the accounts by 16 January 2013. He did not meet this deadline so was fined a further £3,000. Reverend Hargreaves is no longer the registered treasurer of the party, but the fines are imposed on him rather than the party, as he was the treasurer of the party at the time.
Lisa Klein, Director of Party and Election Finance, said: “It is unacceptable for a party to participate in the democratic process whilst the treasurer of that party fails to abide by the law. People have a right to know how parties are funded and how they spend their money.”
The Commission is also currently taking legal action against Reverend Hargreaves to recover previous unpaid fines.
For further information please contact:
Rosemary Davenport, Media Relations Officer, on 020 7271 0704.
Out of Hours 07789 920414.
Notes to Editors
- The Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA) 2000 established the Electoral Commission as an independent body to regulate political party financing and provided the legal framework under which the Commission operates. Under Section 45 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), registered political parties must deliver a statement of accounts to the Commission within 4 months of the end of the party’s financial year if income and expenditure was less than £250,000, or within 6 months and 7 days of the end of the party’s financial year if the income or expenditure was over £250,000.
- In the case of the Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship”, in the absence of information as to the level of income and expenditure, the original deadline was either 30 April 2012 or 7 July 2012 and the Commission applied the later deadline. A variable monetary penalty was imposed, and a compliance notice requiring delivery of the accounts by 16 January 2013. When the accounts were still not delivered, a non-compliance penalty of £3000 was issued. Reverend Hargreaves has until 27 February 2013 to appeal against the non-compliance penalty.
- The Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship” ceased to be a registered party in July 2012 as a result of Reverend Hargreaves failing to renew the party’s registration. A new party, with new officers, but using the same name and identifiers, was registered in January 2013 The fines are imposed on Reverend Hargreaves as the responsible person for compliance by the then party at the relevant time, and not the new party.
- On the second Thursday of every month, the Electoral Commission publishes details of concluded cases where the Commission has imposed sanctions. These can include fixed or variable financial penalties or other sanctions such as a compliance notice requiring specific actions.
- Fixed monetary penalties are always a £200 fine and our usual policy is not to press release these. Variable monetary penalties vary between £250 - £5,000 for prescribed contraventions and for offences triable in a magistrates’ court; or between £250 - £20,000 for offences triable in either a magistrates’ or crown court. Non-compliance penalties, which can be issued where a compliance notice is not complied with, are at the discretion of the Commission, to a maximum of £20,000.
- The Electoral Commission is committed to ensuring transparency in party finance. As part of this process, the Commission will issue a press release where a political party or an individual have received a variable monetary penalty or non-compliance penalty with a value greater than £1000 and/or a compliance or restoration notice.
- For more information about the Commission’s range of sanctions and how fines are calculated, go to:www.electoralcommission.org.uk/party-finance/enforcement/sanctions
- To see political parties’ statements of account, go to: www.electoralcommission.org.uk/party-finance/PEF-online-registers/statements-of-account
- Sanctions levied by the Commission go to the Consolidated Fund, not to the Electoral Commission.