Met Police drop investigation into Vote Leave over EU referendum spend

PUBLISHED: 12:52 08 May 2020 | UPDATED: 19:40 08 May 2020

Many under 40 Brexit voters back maintaining or increasing a range of EU regulations in the UK. Photo: PA / Stefan Rousseau

Many under 40 Brexit voters back maintaining or increasing a range of EU regulations in the UK. Photo: PA / Stefan Rousseau

PA Wire/PA Images

The Met Police has dropped an investigation into two pro-Brexit campaigners who were accused of breaking electoral spending rules during the 2016 EU referendum.

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Boris Johnson speaks at a Vote Leave rally with Priti Patel and Michael Gove (right) in Preston town centre, Lancashire, as part of pro-Brexit campaigning. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.Boris Johnson speaks at a Vote Leave rally with Priti Patel and Michael Gove (right) in Preston town centre, Lancashire, as part of pro-Brexit campaigning. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

The Met Police said it had dropped the investigation on the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

In a statement, the force said: “On Tuesday, March 3 preliminary advice was received from the CPS. This advice has now been duly considered and no further action will be taken.”

The police informed Darren Grimes, who founded the campaign group BeLeave, and Vote Leave official Alan Halsall that it would drop its probe on Friday.

In 2018, Grimes was ordered to pay the Electoral Commission £20,000 in fines after being accused of breaching election spending rules during the Brexit referendum in 2016.

Grimes was accused of making “false declarations” over a £680,00 donations to BeLeave from Vote Leave, the official Brexit campaign body during the referendum. The spending took Vote Leave over its £7 million legal spending limit by almost £500,000.

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He fought the claims in an appeal and won, having crowdfunded £93,956 to contest it in court.

Following the statement Grimes criticised the Commission for pushing ahead with an investigation. He said: “Once again the Electoral Commission has been found to be part of the mob, a quango out of control that isn’t policing elections so much as punishing Leavers who have the temerity to win them.

“My ordeal at the hands of the kangaroo court that is the Electoral Commission is now over, but questions must now be asked of whether that body is fit for purpose.”

Halsall was also “delighted” with the news and thanked the police for their “professional” investigation.

The Electoral Commission referred a complaint that Grimes and Halsall had made false campaign declarations to the Met Police in July 2018.

A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said: “We referred this matter to the police so that offences that lie outside of the commission’s remit could be properly investigated.

“We are pleased that the Met Police have taken the matter seriously.”

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