Police say Brexit investigation 'nearing completion' as Remain MPs demand answers

PUBLISHED: 17:11 03 July 2019

The Metropolitan Police have responded to Remain MPs' threatened legal challenge to hurry their investigations into Leave campaigns. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA

The Metropolitan Police have responded to Remain MPs' threatened legal challenge to hurry their investigations into Leave campaigns. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Police have revealed that one of its two Leave campaign investigations could be nearing completion - but another is being held up because it needs more information from the Electoral Commission.

Become a Supporter

The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism

The revelation comes after a cross-party group of pro-Remain MPs crowdfunded to seek a judicial review to hurry along the Metropolitan Police's investigations into whether criminal charges should be brought against Leave.EU and Vote Leave.

The Met have pushed back strongly against the threatened legal action, which demands officers reach a decision within 14 days - but it has prompted police to "exceptionally" reveal some of their progress via a solicitor's letter.

In one of the investigations, police are "nearing the time when the [Met police] may be in a position to submit a file to the [Crown Prosecution Service] for early investigative advice". In the other, however, they say that "the investigation remains outstanding due to incomplete disclosure from the [Electoral Commission]". The police's solicitor, Richard Barnes, said they don't know when the material will be delivered or how voluminous it will be, so can't give an estimate of how long their recommendations will take.

So as not to prejudice the ongoing investigation, they released the information without specifying which progress applied to Vote Leave and which to Leave.EU.

Met commissioner Cressida Dick said in mid-May that a decision whether or not there has been a criminal offence was due to be made "within weeks" rather than months.

MORE: Police investigating Leave campaign could make decision 'within weeks'

In July 2018, the Electoral Commission fined Vote Leave, Darren Grimes of BeLeave, and David Banks for Veterans for Britain for electoral offences. Vote Leave had exceeded its £7 million spending limit by nearly £500,000, and files were passed to police for potential criminal investigation - which Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake has now criticised for "foot-dragging".

Introducing the MPs' legal crowdfunder, which has reached its goal of £25,000, Brake said on his website: "The public is entitled to know, without delay, whether any criminal law-breaking took place in the run-up, during and after the EU referendum campaign.

"Foot-dragging is not an option for the police when investigating claims relating to the integrity of our democracy."

Barnes responded on behalf of the Met that the legal challenge was unlikely to succeed. He said group of MPs do not have the standing for it, as they are neither complainants nor suspects in the case, and added: "there is a very high hurdle to be overcome" for a court to intervene just on the basis of the police taking too long.

"The [Met police] ought not without very good reason be put in the potentially highly awkward position of having to explain and justify the course of an ongoing investigation," wrote Barnes.

You may also want to watch:

Become a Supporter

The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

Become a supporter

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £13

Latest Articles

Most Read

latest issue

ANTI-BREXIT EVENTS

Find your nearest anti-Brexit campaigning activities, talks, protests and events nationwide.