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Friday, February 19, 2016

Vote Leave campaign reported to police

Politics Home reports on a complaint after a senior Conservative eurosceptic suggested anti-European Union groups could use front organisations to get around spending limits.

They say that Pat McFadden, the former Shadow Europe Minister, has written to the police and the chair of the Electoral Commission to highlight comments from Steve Baker about the EU referendum campaign:

The official pro-Brexit group designated by the Electoral Commission has a spending limit of £7m for the campaign, while other groups will have a ceiling of £700,000.

As reported in The Times this morning, Conservative MP Mr Baker wrote in an email that Vote Leave would “spend as much money as is necessary to win the referendum” by creating “separate legal entities”.

In his letter to the police, seen by PoliticsHome, Mr McFadden called for an investigation as the comments suggested Vote Leave “may breach the law with respect to spending rules”.

“I urge you to urgently investigate whether Vote Leave’s clear plan to ‘create separate legal entities’ would amount to a plan to work together with other campaigners in a way that contravenes the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000,” Mr McFadden wrote.

“Since Vote Leave’s actions may constitute a breach of the law, I believe this is a matter of public importance and interest and so I hope it will be treated as a matter of priority.”

And he asked Jenny Watson, the chair of elections watchdog the Electoral Commission, to investigate the same comments and “to consider this information” when deciding on which campaign should be handed official status.

Mr Baker's email read: "It is open to the Vote Leave family to create separate legal entities, each of which could spend £700,000: Vote Leave will be able to spend as much money as is necessary to win the referendum."

Things are getting interesting.
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