The Electoral Commission

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Monthly update - concluded investigations

Published: 19 Mar 2019

Details of the investigations concluded in the last month have been published today by the Electoral Commission. This is an important part of delivering transparency in political finance in the UK.

Labour Leave

Labour Leave was a permitted participant at the EU referendum in 2016 and was required to deliver pre-poll reports of donations received, and a post-poll spending return including all donations accepted.

In its pre-poll reports, Labour Leave reported receiving nine donations totalling £400,000. During our investigation, we found that it failed to declare two further donations, each worth £10,000. These were non-cash donations of office space, one from Better for the Country Limited, the other from John Mills Limited. Labour Leave was fined £1,000 for these omissions.

Labour Leave therefore received a total of 11 donations, totalling £420,000, during the regulated period. It was required to report all donations accepted in its post-poll spending return. No donations were reported. It was fined £8,000 for this these omissions.

Labour Leave has paid the fines.

Commenting on the fines imposed on Labour Leave, Louise Edwards, the Commission’s Director of Regulation said:

“Today’s announcement concludes a thorough investigation into Labour Leave’s reporting of the donations it received during the 2016 EU referendum. Permitted participants at the referendum were required to provide accurate donation reports both before and after the poll, so the public could see where the money they used for campaigning came from.

“The responsible person for Labour Leave had an important legal duty to accurately report all donations. In this case, they failed to do so which led to a disappointing lack of transparency into the group’s finances.”

Conservative and Unionist Party

Five of the six weekly donation reports the Conservative Party delivered during the 2017 UK parliamentary general election were inaccurate. For this, it received five separate fines, totalling £6,250.

The Conservative Party also delivered an inaccurate quarterly donations reports for the second quarter of 2017. For this it received a fine of £4,080. The donations report included 1,193 donations, with a total value of £25,239,540.97. Within that, there were 78 inaccurately reported donations.

It was also fined £250 for an inaccurate quarterly transactions report.

The Conservative Party has paid these fines.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats received three separate fines totalling £4,750 for inaccurate quarterly donations reports in the second, third and fourth quarters of 2017.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, two donations with a combined value of £173,000 were not included. The largest of the party’s three fines was £4,000 in relation to these omissions. The party subsequently reported all these donations in its donations report for the first quarter of 2018.

Payment for these fines is due by 2 April 2019.

Commenting on the fines imposed on the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, Louise Edwards, the Commission’s Director of Regulation said:

“The reporting requirements are clear, so it is always disappointing when parties – especially well-funded ones – fail to provide accurate reports. It is vital that voters are given an opportunity to see full and accurate data on where parties’ money comes from. The Commission will continue to enforce these requirements on all parties and campaigners to ensure that voters have the information they need.”

Investigations where offences were found and sanctions imposed:

Name and type of regulated entityWhat was investigatedDecision takenOutcome
Labour Leave (permitted participant at the 2016 EU referendum)Inaccurate campaign expenditure return; inaccurate weekly pre-poll donation report for 2016 EU Referendum£8,000 and £1,000 variable monetary penalties

Paid on 11 March 2019

Conservative and Unionist Party

Inaccurate weekly pre-poll reports for 2017 UKPGE£6,250 variable monetary penalties

Paid on 7 March 2019

Conservative and Unionist Party

Inaccurate quarterly donations report; inaccurate quarterly transactions report

£4,800 and £250 variable monetary penaltiesPaid on 7 March 2019
Liberal DemocratsInaccurate quarterly donations reports£4,000, £500 and £250 variable monetary penaltiesDue for payment by 2 April 2019

Investigations where offences were found and no sanctions imposed:

Name and type of regulated entityWhat was investigatedDecision takenOutcome
The Regional PartyLate delivery of quarterly transactions reportsNo sanctionClosed without further action

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. 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. Details for sanctions from previous months can be found on our website.
  3. Penalties imposed by the Commission go into the Consolidated Fund. This is managed by HM Treasury and not the Electoral Commission.

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