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Fines issued by Electoral Commission for breaches of spending return rules

The Electoral Commission yesterday published details of two concluded investigations where sanctions have been applied.

In the first case, the Commission fined the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) £3,000 because the spending return it delivered for the May 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election was inaccurate. The party has since paid the fine.

In the second case, the Commission fined Mr Henry Meakin £1,500 for failing to deliver on time his spending return for the EU Referendum. Mr Meakin has until 20 July to pay the fine.

This information has been published as part of the Commission’s regular monthly investigations update, an important part of its commitment to deliver transparency in political finance in the UK. The full monthly investigations update, which includes details on all of the Commission’s recently concluded investigations, can be found on our website here.

Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)

The Ulster Unionist Party has been fined £3,000 as it submitted an inaccurate spending return for the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election.

The return failed to include payments to the value of £12,000 which should have been included. The Commission noted that the party commissioned its auditors to review the party’s processes following the identification of the omissions, and the party has confirmed it will be acting on the resulting recommendations.

Mr Henry Meakin

The Electoral Commission has fined Mr Henry Meakin, a registered campaigner in the EU referendum, £1,500 for failing to submit his spending return on time. It is an offence not to deliver a spending return by the due date.

Though Mr Meakin reported spending of £37,000 in the campaign, the return was received more than 5 months late.

Bob Posner, Director of Political Finance and Regulation & Legal Counsel for the Electoral Commission said:

“Experienced political parties such as the UUP are expected to be able to follow the rules regarding spending at elections. The Electoral Commission is pleased that the UUP is reviewing its procedures and hopes that this will ensure that a mistake of this nature is not repeated. It is important that the spending of political parties and campaigners at elections and referendums is fully transparent and the rules are correctly followed.”

For more information, contact the Electoral Commission press office on 028 9089 4023 or press@electoralcommission.org.uk

Out of office hours 07789 920 414

Notes to editors

  1. The Electoral Commission is the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK. It works to promote public confidence in the democratic process and ensure its integrity by:
  • enabling the delivery of free and fair elections and referendums, focusing on the needs of electors and addressing the changing environment to ensure every vote remains secure and accessible
  • regulating political finance – taking proactive steps to increase transparency, ensure compliance and pursue breaches
  • using its expertise to make and advocate for changes to our democracy, aiming to improve fairness, transparency and efficiency

The Commission was set up in 2000 and reports to the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

  1. This release forms part of the Commission’s regular monthly investigations update, an important part of its commitment to deliver transparency in political finance in the UK. Information of this nature is published routinely on the third Tuesday of each month. The full monthly investigations update, which includes details on all of the Commission’s recently concluded investigations, can be found on our website here: http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/our-work/roles-and-responsibilities/our-role-as-regulator-of-political-party-finances/sanctions
  2. or the EU Referendum, registered campaigners were limited as to how much they could spend during the formal ‘referendum period’ (which began on 15 April and ran until the close of poll on 23 June). Designated lead campaigners had a spending limit of £7 million each. Other registered campaigners had a spending limit of £700,000. Political parties that registered as campaigners had a spending limit based on the percentage of the vote they received at the last general election. See our media handbook for information here.
  3. Political parties have a maximum spending limit of £306,000 if they contest every constituency in Northern Ireland. The regulated period for the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election began on began on 5 January 2016 and ended on polling day, 5 May 2016. See our media handbook for information here.
  4. Penalties imposed by the Commission go into the Consolidated Fund. This is managed by HM Treasury and not the Electoral Commission.

 

Channel website: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk

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