Electoral Commission was right to release its report on Vote Leave, court finds

PUBLISHED: 15:34 12 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:41 12 November 2019

Boris Johnson speaks at a rally with Priti Patel and Michael Gove (right) in front of the Vote Leave bus. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

Boris Johnson speaks at a rally with Priti Patel and Michael Gove (right) in front of the Vote Leave bus. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

The Electoral Commission was within its rights to publish a report with the details of its findings that the official Leave campaign broke electoral law during the 2016 referendum.

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In July 2018 the Electoral Commission (EC) fined Vote Leave - the official referendum Leave campaign - £61,000 for breaking spending rules, publishing a detailed report in the process.

As well as unsuccessfully appealing its fine, Vote Leave also challenged the EC in a case claiming the ombudsman should not be allowed to publish the report accompanying its findings.

But the Court of Appeal has now found that the EC had the right to publish its reports, including the one relating to Vote Leave.

A spokesperson for the ombusdman said: "Our ability to investigate, impose sanctions and publicise our investigations incentivises parties and campaigners to comply with electoral law.

"Such transparency and clarity is also in the public interest and underpins confidence in the democratic process."

MORE: Question Time host wrongly clears Vote Leave of law breaking allegations

Vote Leave was co-convened by Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, who has since become prime minister, was a key figurehead of the campaign.

The campaign's director Dominic Cummings, who was held in contempt of parliament over Vote Leave allegations, is now Johnson's senior adviser.

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