Police investigating Leave campaign could make decision 'within weeks'

PUBLISHED: 15:06 14 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:52 14 May 2019

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

The police force investigating alleged breaches of election law by Leave campaigners during the EU referendum could decide if they believe any offences were committed "within weeks".

The Metropolitan Police have been examining material passed to the force by the electoral commission, which found both the Vote Leave and Leave.EU groups breached spending rules.

Met commissioner Cressida Dick said a criminal investigation has not yet been launched, but told the London Assembly's police and crime committee her officers are close to coming to a decision on whether they believe any offences have been committed.

"I think it's fair to say the team believe... that in some matters at least we may be able to come to the end of the assessment in weeks and not months and months and months," she said.

"I hope that is the case and that would be based on our view we have all the relevant material. There may be a tiny bit more to get."

Britain's most senior officer said further material had been received from the Electoral Commission in the "last few days".

"We are looking at the material that we have to see whether prima facie, given all the work done by the other body, whether there's a criminal offence made out by some party or another," she said.

"And after that, if there is prima facie, we would go on to the next phase of the investigation."

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She said further material had been received from the Electoral Commission in the "last few days".

In May last year, the commission announced that it was fining Leave.EU - founded by millionaire Brexit backer Arron Banks - £70,000 and referring the person responsible for the campaign to the police after finding it failed to include expenditure of at least £77,000 in its spending returns.

MORE: Vote Leave chair: 'We can't prove our innocence because we destroyed the evidence'

MORE: Steve Baker refuses to name person who gave him advice on overspend

Vote Leave was fined £61,000 in July after the commission found Vote Leave - which was supported by senior politicians including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove - had exceeded its legal spending limit of £7 million by almost £500,000.

It said £675,000 spent by BeLeave, a youth Brexit group - founded by student Darren Grimes, should have been declared by Vote Leave, and that it was referring the individuals responsible for the campaigns to the police.

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