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Electoral Commission decision on Sunday Times allegations

The Electoral Commission has concluded its assessment of allegations that Sarah Southern, Peter Cruddas or the Conservative Party breached donation law.

The Commission found no evidence to support the allegations and will not be opening an investigation into the matter.

During our assessment we looked at comments made by Sarah Southern and Peter Cruddas in a meeting on 15 March with Sunday Times journalists, posing as representatives of a fictitious company based in Liechtenstein.

The journalists discussed making donations to the Conservative Party. In order for an offence to be committed under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA), a real arrangement to assist the making of impermissible donations has to be in place, as opposed to a fictitious one.

No donations were in fact made and the Commission therefore determined that there had not been a breach of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA).

Lisa Klein, Director of Party and Election Finance, said: “Although we have determined that there has been no breach of PPERA, we will meet with the Conservative Party to discuss issues identified during the course of our assessment. We will also be asking the party for the results of their own internal investigation.

“We will not be opening an investigation into the matter however the police are assessing whether any other criminal offences, outside the Commission’s remit, have taken place.”

For further information, contact:
The Electoral Commission press office on 0207 271 0704
Out of office hours 07789 920414

Notes to editors

  1. The Commission’s assessment took place as a result of articles being published in the Sunday Times and a complaint being made by Mark Adams. Jack Straw MP made a subsequent complaint, which was considered as part of our assessment.
  2. During our assessment we considered all available information including articles published by the Sunday Times on 25 March, as well as video and audio recordings held by the newspaper. We looked at whether this constituted evidence that there may have been offences under section 61 of PPERA. This concerns entering into an arrangement to facilitate a donation by an impermissible donor.
  3. The Commission also looked at whether any of the information considered contained evidence of other potential breaches under PPERA. We found no such evidence.
  4. Any non-PPERA criminal offences fall outside the Commission’s remit and have not been considered as part of this assessment.
  5. To read more about our process for handling allegations visit www.electoralcommission.org.uk/party-finance/enforcement/making-allegations  

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