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Case update 15 September 2018

Our Electoral Commission challenge – we won

On Friday the High Court ruled that the Electoral Commission had misunderstood the law surrounding donations during the EU Referendum.

The Electoral Commission unlawfully gave permission to Vote Leave to spend more than Parliament had allowed. The Commission gave that permission to Vote Leave, yet there is no suggestion it gave the same permission to Stronger In, thereby tilting the playing field in favour of Leave.

Also, Vote Leave broke the law twice over. It broke the law, as the Electoral Commission has already found, by ‘working together’ with BeLeave’s Darren Grimes. The Commission never permitted working together. But Vote Leave also broke the law by acting on the basis of the Electoral Commission’s advice, advice we now know was unlawful.

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One implication of the decision is that the secretive Constitutional Research Council (CRC), which donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the DUP, is likely to have broken the law after a BBC investigation showed how the CRC controlled some of the DUP’s spending.

The High Court’s ruling is scathing, calling the Electoral Commission unconstructive,” says it lacked “any rational basis,” was “arbitrary” and its approach to the law is a “recipe for abuse of the spending restrictions.”

Our director Jolyon Maugham QC, has written a piece for The Guardian, which explains the implications of the ruling in further detail. The decision is available to read here.

We would like to thank our talented legal team, Jessica Simor QCTom Cleaver, and Deighton Pierce Glynn, and we would also like to thank those who contributed to our crowdfunding efforts. Please consider supporting our work.