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Electoral Commission statement on UKIP investigation

Published: 18 Sep 2018

The Electoral Commission has today published the conclusions of its investigation into whether the UK Independence Party (UKIP) took certain impermissible donations from a European political party and foundation.

The Commission has not found offences on the evidence available.

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

“We undertook a thorough investigation that involved analysing a significant volume of evidence, as well as conducting interviews with a number of individuals. For an offence to be found, we must be satisfied that the burden of proof meets a criminal standard. We were not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that UKIP took impermissible donations in this case. Should new evidence come to light that makes it appropriate for us to look again at this matter, we will do so.”

Background to the investigation

The Commission looked at whether UKIP took impermissible donations from a European political party and from a foundation, the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE) and the Initiative for Direct Democracy in Europe (IDDE).

This investigation was opened following a decision by the European Parliament Bureau in December 2016 that ADDE and IDDE had broken its rules by spending its grant money on polling undertaken in the interest of UKIP.

Conclusions of the investigation

The Commission found that:

  • The polling did look at geographical areas and Eurosceptic issues of strategic significance to UKIP at the time.
  • Two ADDE contractors who did the polling also worked as UKIP campaign managers during the 2015 UK parliamentary general election.
  • Whilst the polling could have been of benefit to UKIP had it been provided, the evidence was insufficient to support a conclusion that the polling was done to help UKIP, or that UKIP received any of the polling results.

The investigation concluded that the polling therefore did not meet the definition of a donation to UKIP under UK political finance rules.

Please see the full investigation report for further details about our investigation.

Ends

For more information contact the Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704, out of office hours 07789 920 414 or press@electoralcommission.org.uk

Notes to editors

  1. The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. We work 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. The donation rules for UK political parties are set out in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA). A permissible donor under PPERA is:
    • An individual registered on a UK electoral register, including overseas electors and those leaving bequests.
    • Most UK-registered companies.
    • A Great Britain registered political party.
    • A UK-registered trade union.
    • A UK-registered building society.
    • A UK-registered limited liability partnership (LLP) that carries on business in the UK.
    • A UK-registered friendly society.
    • A UK-based unincorporated association that carries on business or other activities in the UK.

If a party receives a donation from an impermissible source, it must return the donation within 30 days. If the party does not do this, its treasurer commits an offence. However, the treasurer has a defence to this if he or she took all reasonable steps to verify if the donor was permissible, and as a result he or she believed that the donor was permissible.

3.In line with our Enforcement Policy, part of the Commission’s remit is to investigate whether or not offences under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 have been committed. We apply the criminal standard of proof. For an offence to be determined, we must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it has been committed.

Journalist