Monthly update - concluded investigations

Summary

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.

Enforcement undertakings

Following the 2017 UK Parliamentary General Election, the Commission identified that the spending returns submitted by the Conservative and Unionist Party and the Liberal Democrats did not comply fully with the rules. Both returns were inaccurate and some invoices were missing from the Conservatives' return. Both parties paid some invoices later than legally allowed.

After the Commission began investigations, it decided that, because the failures in each case appeared to arise from systemic issues in the way each party dealt with election spending, the most appropriate action was to recommend each party enter into ‘enforcement undertakings’ to improve compliance procedures. These are statutory agreements with the Commission whereby a party commits to specific actions within an agreed timescale, to rectify as far as possible the failures and avoid those failings recurring.

The specific details of those undertakings are different in each case but both involve actions to improve systems and compliance procedures; and improving guidance and training for staff to ensure they comply with the rules.

Commenting on the decision to agree enforcement undertakings, Louise Edwards, Director of Regulation, said:

“Political parties that contest elections and spend millions of pounds trying to persuade voters to support them must ensure they submit complete and accurate spending returns. Both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats have a history of failing to do this. Rather than fine the parties, we have chosen to work with them to improve their compliance by requiring them to spend their money on improving systems and training staff.”

Further information on enforcement undertakings

The Commission will monitor both parties’ progress against agreed timescales. If the undertakings are complied with, no sanctions will be imposed in relation to the issues identified. Should an undertaking not be complied with we retain the right to re-open our investigations.

Investigations where offences were found and sanctions imposed

Name and type of regulated entityWhat was investigatedDecision takenOutcome
Conservative and Unionist Party (Beckenham accounting unit)Late delivery of 2017 statement of accounts£400 variable monetary penaltyPayment due on 26 August 2019
Liberal Democrats (Southwark accounting unit)Late delivery of 2017 statement of accounts£400 variable monetary penaltyPaid on 6 August 2019
Michelle McIlveen MLA (donee)Failure to report donation within 30 days£200 fixed monetary penaltyPaid on 2 July 2019
Jonathan Buckley MLA (regulated donee)Failure to report donation within 30 days£200 fixed monetary penaltyPaid on 1 July 2019
William Humphrey MLA (regulated donee)Failure to report donation within 30 days£200 fixed monetary penaltyPaid on 1 July 2019
Andrea Venzon (London region candidate, European Parliamentary election, May 2019)Failure to return donations from impermissible donors within 30 daysVoluntary forfeiture of donations (with a total value of £1,360)Donations voluntarily forfeited

 

Northern Ireland regulated donees

The Commission has also concluded three investigations into failures to comply with PPERA by three regulated donees, relating to donations accepted prior to 1 July 2017. It has imposed penalties of £250, £300 and £600 on these three regulated donees. The deadline for payment or appeal is 9 September 2019.

The Commission continues to be prohibited by legislation from disclosing any information concerning donations to Northern Ireland recipients made prior to 1 July 2017 (section 71E of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000).

Commenting on the fines imposed on regulated donees in Northern Ireland, Louise Edwards, Director of Regulation, said:

“We regret that we remain unable to disclose information about donations prior to July 2017. We continue to urge the UK Government to bring forward legislation that will enable us to publish information on donations from January 2014. This would give transparency and confidence to voters in Northern Ireland.”

Investigations where offences were found and no sanctions imposed

Name and type of regulated entityWhat was investigatedDecision takenOutcome
South Yorkshire Save Our NHS (de-registered political party)Late delivery of quarterly donations and 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.

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