Statement – ruling that EC can keep and publish copies of Grassroots Out Ltd’s spending return

Quote from the Commission

Commenting on today’s ruling that the Commission can retain and publish the referendum spending return for Grassroots Out Ltd, an Electoral Commission spokesperson said: 

“It is vital that voters have transparency over the finances of political campaigns that seek to influence them. The publication of a referendum spending return is a key tool in providing that transparency and in ensuring compliance with the political finance rules. We are pleased the court has today upheld this view and confirmed our power to retain copies of spending returns. We will continue to publish spending returns as part of our work as a regulator.”
 

Background

Background

  • According to a provision set out in PPERA, referendum campaigners can request the return of their spending return two years after it was delivered. 
  • Richard Murphy, the registered responsible person of the referendum campaigner Grassroots Out Ltd requested the return of the campaign group’s spending return. 
  • The hard copy Mr Murphy provided to the Commission was returned, but we retained electronic copies for our records and regulatory functions. We also continued to make the return available on our website. 
  • Richard Murphy asked us to destroy the electronic copies we hold, including the published return, and has brought a private case to compel us to do so. 
  • We applied to the court to strike out this case for having no basis. The Commission has complied with the law by sending the hard copy spending return back to Mr Murphy.