Liberal Democrats fined £18,000 for breaches of campaign finance rules

By agency reporter
December 21, 2017

Details of £18,000 in fines for the Liberal Democrats were published on 19 December 2017 by the Electoral Commission; this follows an investigation that found the party failed to deliver a complete and accurate spending return as a permitted participant at the EU Referendum.

The total sum, which nears the Commission’s maximum individual fine of £20,000, is made up of two fines. The first fine, of £17,000, was imposed for failing to provide acceptable invoices or receipts for 80 payments with a total value of more than £80,000. In some cases no invoices or receipts were provided at all, and in others some were provided which were inadequate, such as credit card statements, or were incomplete. The second fine, of £1,000, was issued because some payments were reported in aggregate rather than as individual payments. The deadline for payment is 3 January 2018.

Bob Posner, Electoral Commission Director of Political Finance and Regulation & Legal Counsel, said: “The reporting requirements for parties and campaigners at referendums and elections are clear, that’s why it is disappointing that the Liberal Democrats didn’t follow them correctly. The major political parties must ensure their internal governance is sufficiently invested in and resourced so they can be sure of meeting their legal obligations. Where the rules are not followed, transparency is lost which is not in the public interest or as parliament intended.”

This is part of the Commission’s regular monthly investigations update, an important part of its commitment to deliver transparency in political finance in the UK. The Commission has also published details of concluded investigations, including one into Open Britain and a number of others into political parties and non-party campaigners.

Open Britain

Open Britain (formerly known as Britain Stronger in Europe) has been fined £1,250 for failing to deliver a complete and accurate spending return for the EU Referendum. The organisation was fined £1,000 because some payments were reported in aggregate rather than as individual payments, and a further £250 in relation to three invoices that were not provided. Open Britain has now paid the total fine.

Further fines

The Commission also published details of three further substantial fines:

  • Immigrants Political Party, fined £2,500 for late delivery of its 2016 statement of accounts, and quarterly donations and loans report;
  • Traditional Unionist Voice, fined £1,850 for late delivery of pre-poll reports for 2017 UKPGE, 2016 statement of accounts, and campaign expenditure return for the 2017 Northern Ireland Assembly Election;
  • Labour Campaign for Human Rights, fined £1,350 for late reporting of donations by a members’ association;

Details of fines, ranging from £200 to £750, imposed for 14 other registered political parties, regulated donees and EU referendum campaigners have also been released.

* Details of donations and loans, spending and registration and accouts can be downloaded here

* Electoral Commission https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/

[Ekk/4]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.