Met Police drop criminal probe into Leave.EU spending

The launch of the Leave.EU campaigning organisation in 2015Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Liz Bilney (left) had been referred to the police by the Electoral Commission

Campaign group Leave.EU will face no additional criminal investigation over its spending in the course of the Brexit referendum.

It was referred to the Metropolitan Police after being fined £70,000 by the Electoral Commission in May final yr for election regulation breaches.

But the Met stated there was “insufficient evidence” to justify any additional criminal investigation.

Leave.EU founder Arron Banks referred to as for an inquiry to be launched into the fee’s actions.

He stated it had “serious questions to answer about political bias and whether it is fit for purpose as a regulator”.

Mr Banks added that the probe had taken a “huge personal toll” on Leave.EU chief government Liz Bilney and her household, and accused “anti-Brexit” MPs of “harassment and lies”.

Scotland Yard stated that – although there had been “technical breaches” of electoral regulation by Leave.EU – it had taken the choice to drop its investigation after consulting the Crown Prosecution Service in early August.

Commander Alex Murray stated: “Following detailed enquiries it became apparent that the nature of potential breaches of the regulations, the criminal standard of proof required in court and the actions taken by Leave.EU to adhere to the regulations, mean that it is now appropriate to take no further action.”

In a May 2018 report, the Electoral Commission stated Leave.EU had exceeded the spending restrict for “non-party registered campaigners” by at the very least 10% by failing to incorporate at the very least £77,380 in its spending return.

It additionally referred Ms Bilney to the police following its investigation.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson stated: “We believed there were reasonable grounds to suspect that Ms Bilney had committed the offence of knowingly or recklessly making a false declaration about the Leave.EU spending return.”

“This warranted thorough investigation and we therefore notified the police.”

The spokesperson added: “As the Metropolitan Police notice, this doesn’t alter the findings of the fee’s investigation from May final yr, which discovered Ms Bilney to have dedicated 4 offences, together with of submitting an inaccurate spending return and of exceeding the spending restrict.

“Leave.EU appealed these findings, however the fee’s place was upheld in courtroom.”

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