A Statement on judicial review
We have written to the Good Law Project today regarding its proposed judicial review of the Commission’s assessment of donations to the DUP. In doing so, we have provided them with the greatest level of information we are able to within the legal constraints.
Donations made to political parties in Northern Ireland before July 2017 are protected from disclosure by section 71E of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA). With limited exceptions, this legislation prevents us from disclosing any information relating to such donations, which means we cannot publicly detail the steps we took as part of our assessment.
We share the Good Law Project’s frustration at this lack of transparency. Transparency is central to public confidence in our political finance system. We have consistently called for greater transparency around political finance in Northern Ireland and continue to urge the UK government to extend the transparency rules to cover donations made from 2014. This would cover a period of intense electoral activity, taking in two UK parliamentary general elections, two Northern Ireland Assembly elections, EU and local government elections and the EU referendum.
As with the political donations regime in the rest of the UK, for Northern Ireland donations we ensure donation reports are quickly and thoroughly verified. Any offences identified at this stage are assessed to the highest standard. While the disclosure restrictions remain in place, we will always go as far as the law allows us in sharing donation and loan information that is provided to us in order to give voters confidence in the system.