Vote Leave has been fined and referred to police after exceeding its spending limit by almost half a million pounds in the referendum.
An investigation by the Electoral Commission found “significant evidence of joint working” between the group and another organisation – BeLeave – leading to it exceeding its spending limit by almost £500,000.
Vote Leave also returned an “incomplete and inaccurate spending report”, with almost £234,501 reported incorrectly, and invoices missing for £12,849.99 of spending, the watchdog said.
According the conclusions of the investigation:
- All Darren Grimes’ and BeLeave’s spending on referendum campaigning was incurred under a common plan with Vote Leave. Vote Leave should have declared the amount of joint spending in its referendum spending return and therefore failed to deliver a complete campaign spending return.
- Vote Leave’s referendum spending was £7,449,079.34, exceeding its statutory spending limit of £7 million.
- Vote Leave’s spending return was inaccurate in respect of 43 items of spending, totalling £236,501.44. Eight payments of over £200 in Vote Leave’s return did not have an invoice or receipt with them. These payments came to £12,849.99.
- As an unregistered campaigner, BeLeave exceeded its spending limit of £10,000 by more than £666,000.
Robert Peston has called on Michael Gove and Boris Johnson to apologise on behalf of the campaign following the investigation.
Other senior establishment figures who sat on the campaign committee of Vote Leave include Liam Fox, Iain Duncan Smith, Dominic Raab, Steve Baker, Chris Grayling, Priti Patel and Lord Lawson.
Jo Maugham QC has been credited for forcing the investigation into spending.
On Twitter this morning he said the Electoral Commission initially whitewashed Vote Leave’s conduct, and called on Labour to challenge the government by pointing out that the result is illegitimate given that Vote Leave cheated.