Friday, 2 November 2018

National Crime Agency investigation ~ Brexit ~ Leave funding

On 4 October this blog took a look at Brexit-related litigation.

A challenge brought by Crowdjustice - UK in EU Challenge will have an oral permission hearing on 8 December.  The challenge website states -


In a separate development,
the Electoral Commission has referred Mr Arron Banks, Better for the Country and others to the National Crime Agency (NCA) for investigation - Statement Electoral Commission 1 November 2018

The Electoral Commission has completed its current investigation into certain payments made to Better for the Country Limited (BFTC) and Leave.EU Group Limited (Leave.EU). These payments were for the purposes of meeting expenses incurred by BFTC (including on behalf of Leave.EU) in the 2016 EU Referendum. The Commission considers that it has reasonable grounds to suspect a number of criminal offences and has referred the matter to the National Crime Agency (NCA)" - see Report on Investigations into payments made to Better for the Country and Leave.EU

See also the NCA Statement - "While electoral law offences would not routinely fall within the NCA’s remit, the nature of the necessary inquiries and the potential for offences to have been committed other than under electoral law lead us to consider an NCA investigation appropriate in this instance.  This is now a live investigation, and we are unable to discuss any operational detail."

In June 2018 Mr Banks gave evidence to the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport  Committee and the committee subsequently issued an interim report.   The report (paragraph 44 of the conclusions) stated -


Media reports:

The Daily Mail 2 November  looks at the NCA taking up the investigation.

A further twist is the story that Theresa May stopped Security Servives investigating Arron Banks in the lead up to the 2016 EU referendum - Daily Mail 2 November - "The Mail understands that in early 2016 the then home secretary Theresa May declined a request by one of the security services to investigate Banks- as the topic was simply too explosive in the run up to the referendum."

The Guardian 2 November carried an article written by Damian Collins MP who is the Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.  Mr Collins wrote - "Arron Banks, the chairman of Leave.EU, has taken the unusual step of writing to each household in my parliamentary constituency of Folkestone and Hythe, telling them that I am a “disgrace” and a “snake in the grass”. He claims that “I have never respected the result of the [Brexit] referendum.” However, he is unable to point to anything in my voting record in parliament to substantiate his assertion."

Does any of this affect either the referendum or Brexit?

That is, of course, the $64,000 Question .

Ain interesting article on this is by Ewan McGaughey at LSE Brexit blog - Fraud unravels everything: Brexit is voidable and Article 50 can be revoked.

Up to the time of writing, the government has shown no wish to take any political action in relation to any irregularities in spending etc.  Matters have, so far, been left to the Electoral Commission and now to the NCA.

Earlier post 17 July 2018 - Electoral Commission - Vote Leave and others

Links:

Channel 4 - The long read: The Arron Banks allegations - 27 July 2018



Update:

Mr Banks was interviewed by Andrew Marr - BBC TV 4 November 2018.  In the interview Mr Banks maintained that the donated money came from a UK company registered as Rock Services Ltd and had been generated by insurance business.  Mr Banks said on the programme that Rock Services Ltd is owned by Rock Holdings Ltd.  That company is registered in the Isle of Man.

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