Investigation: Liberal Democrats 2015 UK Parliamentary general election campaign spending return

The Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats (“the Party”) is a registered political party in Great Britain.

The 2015 United Kingdom Parliamentary General Election (“the 2015 UKPGE”) took place on 7 May 2015. Under PPERA and given that the Party’s campaign spending exceeded £250,000, the registered campaigns officer of the Party1 , Mr Tim Gordon, was required to deliver to us a financial return including all campaign spending incurred by the Party during the 2015 UKPGE campaign period, by 7 November 2015. Mr Gordon delivered this return in advance of the statutory deadline. We published this return on 20 January 2016.

We later identified various items of expenditure in Liberal Democrat candidate spending returns for the 2015 UKPGE which were stated as split between the Party and the candidate and thus reportable in both returns. However, the Party element did not appear in the Party’s original UKPGE return. Following enquiries with the Party, we opened an investigation on 27 June 2016.

This is a report of that investigation. It is being published alongside the publication of the outcome of the investigation and the sanction imposed.

Summary of outcomes

In summary, we found that the Party’s 2015 UKPGE campaign spending return was not a complete return as required by PPERA. Accordingly, Mr Gordon committed one offence under PPERA and the Party has been fined £20,000, this being the maximum fine that we may impose.

In addition, we identified information raising the suspicion that Mr Gordon may have knowingly or recklessly signed a false declaration that the spending return was complete. This is an offence under section 83(3) of PPERA. We do not have the powers to sanction this offence, and the matter was therefore referred to the Metropolitan Police Service on 24 November 2016.

The legal framework