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Liberal Democrats fined £18,000 for breaches of campaign finance rules

Published: 19 Dec 2017

Details of £18,000 in fines for the Liberal Democrats have been published today by the Electoral Commission; this follows an investigation that found the party failed to deliver a complete and accurate spending return as a permitted participant at the EU Referendum.

The total sum, which nears the Commission’s maximum individual fine of £20,000, is made up of two fines. The first fine, of £17,000, was imposed for failing to provide acceptable invoices or receipts for 80 payments with a total value of more than £80,000. In some cases no invoices or receipts were provided at all, and in others some were provided which were inadequate, such as credit card statements, or were incomplete. The second fine, of £1,000, was issued because some payments were reported in aggregate rather than as individual payments. The deadline for payment is 3 January 2018.

Commenting on the fine, Bob Posner, Electoral Commission Director of Political Finance and Regulation & Legal Counsel, said:

“The reporting requirements for parties and campaigners at referendums and elections are clear, that’s why it is disappointing that the Liberal Democrats didn’t follow them correctly. The major political parties must ensure their internal governance is sufficiently invested in and resourced so they can be sure of meeting their legal obligations. Where the rules are not followed, transparency is lost which is not in the public interest or as parliament intended.”

This is part of the Commission’s regular monthly investigations update, an important part of its commitment to deliver transparency in political finance in the UK. The Commission has also published details of concluded investigations, including one into Open Britain and a number of others into political parties and non-party campaigners.

Open Britain

Open Britain (formerly known as Britain Stronger in Europe) has been fined £1,250 for failing to deliver a complete and accurate spending return for the EU Referendum. The organisation was fined £1,000 because some payments were reported in aggregate rather than as individual payments, and a further £250 in relation to three invoices that were not provided. Open Britain has now paid the total fine.

Further fines

The Commission also published details of three further substantial fines imposed today:

  • Immigrants Political Party, fined £2,500 for late delivery of its 2016 statement of accounts, and quarterly donations and loans report;
  • Traditional Unionist Voice, fined £1,850 for late delivery of pre-poll reports for 2017 UKPGE, 2016 statement of accounts, and campaign expenditure return for the 2017 Northern Ireland Assembly Election;
  • Labour Campaign for Human Rights, fined £1,350 for late reporting of donations by a members’ association;

Details of fines, ranging from £200 to £750, imposed for 14 other registered political parties, regulated donees and EU referendum campaigners have also been released today.

The full monthly investigations update, which includes details on all of the Commission’s recently concluded investigations, can be found on our website here.

Ends

For more information, contact the Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704 or press@electoralcommission.org.uk

Out of office hours 07789 920414

Notes to editors

1. The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. It works to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:

  • enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focusing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
  • regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
  • using our expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy, aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency

The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

2. This release forms part of the Commission’s regular monthly investigations update, an important part of its commitment to deliver transparency in political finance in the UK. Information of this nature is published routinely on the third Tuesday of each month. The full monthly investigations update, which includes details on all of the Commission’s recently concluded investigations, can be found on our website here: http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/our-work/roles-and-responsibilities/our-role-as-regulator-of-political-party-finances/sanctions

3. Penalties imposed by the Commission go into the Consolidated Fund. This is managed by HM Treasury and not the Electoral Commission.

Journalist