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Police drop investigation into Leave.EU due to "insufficient evidence"
13 September 2019, 13:41
The Met Police have said there is "insufficient evidence" to justify further investigation into Leave.EU but that it was clear some "technical breaches of electoral law were committed."
No further action will be taken against Leave.EU, a Brexit campaign founded by businessman Arron Banks and spearheaded by Nigel Farage during the referendum in 2016, over "technical breaches" of electoral law, Scotland Yard said.
Commander Alex Murray, of Central Specialist Crime, said: “It was right to investigate the allegation, however 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.”
The police said Leave.EU’s responsible person has been has been told that they will face no further police action.
The Electoral Commission said "It is right that regulatory and enforcement authorities fully investigate concerns about potential breaches of the law. 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.
"As the Metropolitan Police note, this does not alter the findings of the Commission’s investigation from May last year, which found Ms Bilney to have committed four offences, including of submitting an inaccurate spending return and of exceeding the spending limit. Leave.EU appealed these findings, but the Commission’s position was upheld in court."
Responding to the decision, Leave.EU chairman Arron Banks called for the resignation of the head of the Electoral Commission.
"The disgraceful political collusion between the Electoral Commission and the Damian Collins 'Remain-biased' DCMS committee and a number of leading Remain MPs, demonstrates a serious abuse of public office and we will be demanding a full public inquiry investigation into their actions.
"We will be writing to the Prime Minster today demanding a public inquiry into the actions of the Electoral Commission.
"I am today calling for the resignation of Damian Collins and the CEO of Electoral Commission as a result of today's news.
"The Electoral Commission have serious questions to answer about political bias and whether it is fit for purpose as a regulator.
"The management board is overseen by third-rate politicos and people who have shown clear political bias. The chairman himself described Brexit as a "collection of Eurosceptic nonsense" and one of the EC board called for a second referendum.
"The investigation has taken a huge personal toll on Liz Bilney, her family and the harassment and lies perpetrated by anti-Brexit MPs is disgraceful. MPs like Stephen and Ian Lavery should apologise to Liz and the 1.5 million supporters of Leave.EU they tried to smear.
"During the last two years, the Metropolitan Police have been professional and thorough. They spent many hours investigating our case and they should be commended for doing a difficult job in a difficult political climate. They remained impartial and operated with complete integrity.
"We would like to thank the Metropolitan Police Commissioner for giving her officers her full support at all times."
The investigation into the spending returns of Vote Leave and BeLeave remains ongoing.