Electoral Commission concludes two party finance cases
As part of its regular monthly casework update, an important part of its commitment to ensuring transparency in the UK's political and party funding systems, the Electoral Commission has yesterday published details of two separate concluded investigations where sanctions have been applied.
In the first case, the Commission has fined 'Better Together 2012 Limited' (Better Together) £2000 for failing to deliver a full and complete campaign expenditure report for the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014.
In the second case, the Commission has fined the British National Party £2400 for failing to deliver its statement of accounts for 2014 by the due date.
The full monthly casework update, which includes details on all of our recently concluded investigations, can be found on our website here.
The Electoral Commission has fined Better Together £2000 because the campaign expenditure report it delivered to the Commission did not include invoices or receipts to support approximately £57,000 (5%) of its expenditure. The law requires receipts or invoices for all items of expenditure of over £200.
Better Together was a designated lead campaigner in the Scottish Independence Referendum, with more significant resources and a higher profile than other campaigners. Taking this into account, the Commission decided a financial sanction was appropriate in this case.
The Commission found no evidence to suggest that the omissions were deliberate, and took into account that the responsible person for the organisation made efforts to provide further supporting documentation after the deadline for the report had passed.
Better Together paid the fine in full on 12 January.
Bob Posner, Director of Party & Election Finance and Legal Counsel at the Electoral Commission, said:
"The responsibilities of a registered campaigner in a referendum do not end on polling day. Transparency around who spends what at referendums, based on complete and accurate financial reports, is an important part of ensuring that the public has confidence in the democratic process".
British National Party
The Electoral Commission has fined the British National Party £2400 for delivering its 2014 accounts two months after the deadline.
The party was granted an extension of one month to the 7 July 2015 deadline for submitting its accounts because it was experiencing difficulty in finding an auditor. After it missed this extended deadline, the Commission opened an investigation. The accounts were delivered on 16 October 2015.
The Commission acknowledged that the party experienced difficulty in finding a new auditor, and that the party's treasurer had some health problems which exacerbated the situation, but concluded that this and other issues could have been dealt with in a way that did not delay the delivery of the accounts. The Commission took into account that the party had recently been sanctioned for other compliance failures and this is reflected in the level of the fine.
Any penalties that are imposed by the Commission go into the Consolidated Fund. This is managed by HM Treasury and not the Electoral Commission.
For more information please contact:
Sarah Mackie at the Electoral Commission press office on 0131 225 0211.
Out of office hours 07789 920414
Notes to editors
- The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Our aim is integrity and public confidence in the UK's democratic process. We regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections and are responsible for the conduct and regulation of referendums held under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (2000).
- The Electoral Commission has a range of enforcement powers under PPERA 2000 and the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013. For more information on the regulatory work of the Commission see the website here.
- Any potential breaches of the rules which regulate political party funding are considered in line with the Commission's enforcement policy which can be accessedhere.
- On the third Tuesday of every month, the Electoral Commission publishes details of concluded cases where the Commission has imposed sanctions here.
- An individual or organisation that is issued with a sanction by the Electoral Commission has 28 days to appeal that decision. Any such appeal is made to the County Court (or in Scotland to a Sheriff)).
- In both cases the fines will increase by 50% if it is not paid within 56 days of being imposed. After a further 28 days we may take action to obtain payment through the courts using the debt recovery process.
- The Electoral Commission removed the BNP from its register of political parties in Great Britain on 8 January for failing to confirm their registration details with the Commission; a legal requirement that must be submitted annually.
- The BNP were fined £750 in July 2015 for two other compliance failures-
- Payment of an invoice for expenditure during European Parliamentary Election 2014 received after the statutory deadline.
- Failure to deliver fully compliant campaign expenditure report for 2014 European Parliamentary Election (various invoices relating to expenditure omitted).
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