Gove: 'I wasn't made aware of law-breaking measures'
PUBLISHED: 09:06 03 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:24 03 April 2019
Michael Gove has denied any knowledge of Vote Leave's wrong-doing during the referendum campaign, claiming as a co-convenor he was too busy on the campaign trail.
The Electoral Commission confirmed last week that Vote Leave, which was supported by senior politicians including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, had withdrawn an appeal against fines for breaches of electoral law committed during the 2016 EU referendum campaign.
The watchdog’s investigation centred on a donation of almost £680,000 made by Vote Leave to BeLeave, a youth Brexit group.
This spending took Vote Leave over its £7 million legal spending limit.
But speaking on Sky News, Gove said he was “not involved in the day-to-day running of the campaign.”
He said: “No, I wasn’t involved in the day-to-day running of the campaign, I was out there making the case for leaving the European Union rather than managing the hidden wiring of the campaign.
“But I think this case has been investigated twice by the Electoral Commission since it occurred and I think on both those occasions the Electoral Commission said that it’s quite right that the one campaign can donate to another organisation, and indeed my understanding is that the Remain campaign did pretty much the same thing.”
Pressed further by presenter Dermot Murnaghan, he denied he met daily with the campaign team, saying that he only had weekly meetings.
Gove said the donations were only mentioned to him after the campaign concluded.
That is despite an email surfacing from Steve Baker in early 2016 which was was reportedly sent to Tory MPs, claiming that Leave could spend as much as it needed.
Fellow co-host Gisela Stuart refused to apologise for the law-breaking from Vote Leave, maintaining that the rules needed “rewriting”.