Calls for tougher sanctions for those breaching electoral law as Vote Leave appeals fines

PUBLISHED: 12:01 28 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:03 28 March 2019

Boris Johnson is surrounded by Vote Leave and Remain activists, as part of his tour on the campaign bus. (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Boris Johnson is surrounded by Vote Leave and Remain activists, as part of his tour on the campaign bus. (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

PA/Press Association Images

Vote Leave is to appeal against penalties imposed for multiple breaches of electoral law - while others are calling for the government to toughen up against rule breakers.

Speaking on behalf of the Electoral Commission, Labour MP Bridget Phillipson said: “The commission found Vote Leave guilty of multiple breaches under electoral law and imposed fines of £61,000 in July 2018.

“Vote Leave made representations to the commission in June 2018 when it was notified of the commission’s proposals of penalties.

“The commission considered these representations carefully, in accordance with its published enforcement policy, before deciding on the penalties to be imposed.

“Vote Leave took up its right of appeal to the county court and the appeal is listed for July 2019.”

Speaking in the House of Commons, SNP MP Philippa Whitford said the Leave campaign should face harsher penalties because of the “threatened economic damage” of Brexit.

Whitford said: “The Leave campaign was found guilty of sending almost 200,000 unsolicited texts to numbers they had harvested from a football competition with odds of five million, million, billion to one. Anyone who is good with trillions can tell me at the end.

“In view of the threatened economic damage from Brexit, is a fine of £40,000 enough to put others off?”

Phillipson said: “The Electoral Commission works closely with the information commissioner and others in making sure that our rules are followed.

“But the Electoral Commission, in terms of its responsibilities, continues to urge the government to introduce legislation to strengthen its sanctioning powers for future referendums and elections.

“Its view is that the current maximum fine of £20,000 per offence could well be seen as the cost of doing business.”

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