Arron Banks threatens legal action over Leave.EU investigations

Arron Banks

The Electoral Commission announced on Monday that it was probing whether a £625,000 ($827,000) gift to Darren Grimes, a 24-year-old fashion student, was in breach of strict election regulations.

The official pro-Brexit campaign in the European Union referendum is under investigation for potentially breaching strict spending limits, the Electoral Commission has announced.

"In relation to our first investigation in respect of Leave.EU, the Commission will shortly set out to Leave.EU areas where it appears material has not been provided, notably relating to documents comprising the services provided by Goddard Gunster in late 2015/early 2016". An investigation by the Open Democracy website alleges that Banks has exaggerated his wealth and asked where he got the money for his donations.

Vote Leave - led by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove - gave Mr Grimes the money to support his BeLeave campaign in the run-in to the June 23 referendum a year ago.

The commission has launched two investigations; into its use of data mining and analysis, and the sources of Leave.EU's funding.

But more information has now come to light which has give the watchdog "reasonable grounds to suspect an offence may have been committed".

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       UK election firm defends tactics
Video UK election firm defends tactics

The watchdog wants to find out if there is any wrongdoing attached to an alleged undeclared provision of services by data firm Cambridge Analytica. "My sole involvement with the "Russians" was a boozy six-hour lunch with the ambassador where we drank the place dry (they have some cracking vodka and brandy)", he said, while calling for investigations to be lead by a judge rather than the Electoral Commission.

Investigators will examine whether Vote Leave - backed by Tory Cabinet ministers Boris Johnson and Michael Gove - filed returns correctly, says The Guardian.

Vote Leave - the official pro-Brexit campaign - was allowed to spend £7 million (as was its opponent, Britain Stronger in Europe).

They will also look into why the campaign group channelled £625,000 in donations to fashion student Darren Grimes, then 23, who ran the BeLeave campaign, and a further £100,000 to a group called Veterans for Britain. Veterans for Britain also denies having coordinated with Vote Leave.

The Electoral Commission is already conducting investigations into other parts of the Brexit campaign and the new inquest re-opens an early issue. While it's allowed to give money away, campaign rules ban it from telling recipients how to spend it-his campaign had to be completely independent from Vote Leave. All other campaigners were capped at £700,000 each.

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