Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has written to Theresa May regarding the stalled launch of a Metropolitan Police investigation into the Vote Leave campaign. She calls on the Prime Minister to encourage the Met to act promptly.
In the letter, Layla says the Electoral Commission’s findings into the Vote Leave campaign "call into question the legitimacy of the Brexit referendum". She adds:
"It is disgraceful that despite the Electoral Commission reporting breaches of electoral law, false declarations and covert campaign over-spending more than five months ago, the Police appear to have made no progress in investigating these allegations.
"Should the allegations against the campaigns prove to be true, it would be an affront to our democracy."
This is the full text of Layla’s letter
The Prime Minister
By email 12 October 2018
cc: The Home Secretary
I am writing to express my deep concern at the news that the Metropolitan Police has stalled the launch of any criminal investigation into pro-leave Brexit campaigns.
It is disgraceful that despite the Electoral Commission reporting breaches of electoral law, false declarations and covert campaign over-spending more than five months ago, the Police appear to have made no progress in investigating these allegations.
Should the allegations against the campaigns prove to be true, it would be an affront to our democracy. In their report, the Electoral Commission stated:
* Vote Leave overspent in the referendum.
* They worked to a ‘common plan’ with BeLeave, meaning BeLeave’s spending ‘should have been treated as incurred by Vote Leave’.
* Vote Leave’s referendum spending was in fact £7,449,079. Their statutory limit was £7,000,000.
* The Leave.EU campaign group breached multiple areas of electoral law. The group spent at least £77,380 more than it declared, and more than 10% above its spending limit.
* BeLeave founder Darren Grimes is guilty of electoral law breaches.
* BeLeave exceeded its spending limit by almost £500,000.
Not only this, but Vote Leave repeatedly failed to cooperate with the Electoral Commission’s investigation, including refusing requests for interviews, leading to them handing down a record fine. The founder of Leave.EU, Arron Banks also rejected the report, branding the Commission a ‘Blairite swamp creation packed full of remoaners’.
These findings call into question the legitimacy of the Brexit referendum and, more broadly, the strength of the rules in place that are meant to guarantee that our elections and referendums are free and fair.
The Metropolitan Police cite ‘political sensitivities’ as its reasoning for the lack of progress.
By definition, any allegations around election offences are politically sensitive – this is a reason for the Metropolitan Police to proceed with haste, not to delay investigations.
I am also deeply concerned that ‘political sensitivities’ is simply a cover for political interference.
My concerns are shared by barrister Jolyon Maugham, QC, who is quoted as saying: ‘if the MPS are delaying an investigation into a likely crime because of political interference, then ‘scandal’ does not begin to cover it. Were that true, we would be living in a police state where criminality was overlooked – if that criminality was expedient to the government’.
The public have a right to fully understand what happened in terms of spending during the EU referendum, and it is vital to our democracy that if individuals committed crimes, they are brought to justice.
The Met’s legal counsel, Bob Posner, described the folio of evidence on the activities of VoteLeave as ‘clear and substantial’. I hope you agree and are able to use your position to encourage the Met to act promptly.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter.
Layla Moran MP