The Crime of The Century: A Post Referendum Chronology
EditorOctober 21, 2019
A thought-provoking exposé, shining a light on how, in allowing Brexit’s cheats and liars to avoid punitive justice, our democracy has been left in jeopardy.
Years in the planning, the 23rd June 2016 saw the UK’s representative democracy explode, leaving our parliament broken and our apathetic authorities blindly sifting through a debris field now stretching back over three years.
It’s only natural to believe that in times of national crises we’re protected; believing that living in a modern liberal democracy, our parliament, our executive and our judiciary will collectively enforce electoral laws that not only ensure fairness, confidence and legitimacy of electoral events but also prevent the rich and the strong from manipulating and abusing the weak and the poor.
Michael Gove – Vote Leave Committee Member 2016 – Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 2019.
Yet it’s now abundantly clear that, since June 2016, that protection has suffered a catastrophic failure. The rich and the strong, who are prepared to wantonly bend, break and exploit weaknesses in those laws, have done so with impunity; placing within their grasp their goal of a free market, small state, low tax, deregulated regime in which self-determinism fully replaces the collectivism of the British welfare state and the security of the European Union through the abandonment of hard won personal, environmental and consumer rights, freedoms and protections that we enjoy as EU citizens.
Many believe the answer to the Brexit impasse lies in having another referendum or yet another general election, conveniently ignoring the urgent need to address the legal deficiencies that were exploited to deliver this debacle in the first place, deficiencies that mendacious demagogues exploited as they lied, cheated and used their money to strangle our democracy in 2016.
What you’re about to read is a systemic failure, a systemic failure laid bare, a chronology in which there is a clear pattern of behaviour from those who delivered Brexit through lying, cheating and using money to break electoral law, they went on to lie and cheat the authorities – the Electoral Commission, the police and the NCA who have simply accepted what they have said with little or no oversight or investigation.
This isn’t something that’s hiding in plain sight, it’s in plain sight, staring everyone in the face, yet most of our politicians, our police and our media are looking the other way in what is little more than a daylight political robbery.
We need systemic change, not just our electoral laws but how they’re policed and how developments in media technology are controlled during electoral events.
We’re writing to our MPs to demand that the police, the NCA, the CPS, the Electoral Commission and members of those organisations involved in the 2016 EU referendum campaign are brought before the Home Affairs Committee as a precursor to a judge led public inquiry the likes of which has not been witnessed in British political history.
We suggest you contact your own MPs and demand the same, send them the chronology, you can download it here – ask them the same questions and demand that parliament provides answers.
70,000,000 people living in the UK and the EU are having their rights freedoms and protections taken away on the procured result of a glorified opinion poll; let’s all agree with Priti Patel when she said, “I want criminals to literally feel terror at the thought of breaking the law” because at the moment, those who broke the law to deliver a referendum result – a result that will have negative intergenerational impact – are not only getting away with it, they’re laughing at us and planning their next move.
All talk and no action…for a reason.
(1) March 2017, at the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) awards, held at Huntington Beach CA, Goddard Gunster win the ‘International Consultant of the Year Award’ for their work with LeaveEU and Nigel Farage. Farage gives the award acceptance speech.
Gerry Gunster and the LeaveEU campaign team wins an AAPC award
(2) April 2017, the Electoral Commission announce an investigation into the activities of LeaveEU during the 2016 EU referendum.
(3) May 2017, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announces investigations into the political use of private data amid concerns over allegations involving an analytics firm linked to a Brexit campaign.
(4) September 2017, with the Electoral Commission refusing to investigate Vote Leave, they receive a ‘letter before claim’ from the ‘Good Law Project’ outlining their failure to take any action relating to expenditure of more than £620,000 on services provided by a company called Aggregate IQ, further to the same sum being passed from the designated lead campaigning organisation “Vote Leave” to Mr Darren Grimes, a registered campaigner for the referendum.
(5) October 2017, the Good Law Project issue proceedings challenging the conclusions reached by the Electoral Commission over the spending return of Vote Leave, Mr. Darren Grimes and BeLeave. Shortly afterwards, the Commission agree to re-open its investigation into the relevant transactions.
(6) November 2017, the Electoral Commission, having previously declined to investigate Vote Leave on two occasions, citing a lack of evidence, announce an investigation into Vote Leave, Mr. Darren Grimes, BeLeave and Veterans for Britain.
(7) January 2018, Vote Leave’s lawyers send a ‘Pre-Action Protocol Letter’ indicating that it intended to judicially review the opening of the investigation; but given more details on the decision to investigate, they take no further action.
(8) May 2018, the Electoral Commission announce the result of their investigation into LeaveEU. They find LeaveEU guilty of multiple breaches of electoral laws included in the ‘EU Referendum Act 2015’ and the ‘Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000’ (PPERA) and fine them a total of £70,000.
(9) July 2018, the Electoral Commission announce the result of their investigation into Vote Leave, Mr. Darren Grimes, BeLeave and Veterans for Britain. They find Vote Leave guilty of multiple breaches of PPERA and fine them £61,000. Mr. Darren Grimes is fined £20,000 for an offence under section 117(3) PPERA and BeLeave committed an offence under section 117(4) PPERA. Mr. Darren Grimes is also guilty of an offence under section 117(3) PPERA but in light on the £20,000 fine the Electoral Commission decided not to impose a further fine. Veterans for Britain committed an offence under section 122(4)(b) PPERA and is fined £250.
(10) August 2018, the Electoral Commission decline to investigate the political party which props up the May government, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), over claims it coordinated its Brexit referendum campaign spending with Vote Leave in order to break legal spending limits. The Commission later disclose that even if it had found sufficient evidence of Vote Leave coordinating with the DUP, they decide that there would be no public interest in investigating the matter because Vote Leave had already been found to have coordinated with Mr. Darren Grimes.
(11) September 2018, the Electoral Commission lose a High Court legal challenge, from the Good Law Project, that argued the Commission failed in its duty to regulate the 2016 referendum. MR. Justice Leggatt ruled that the Commission had misunderstood the definition of ‘referendum expenses’ and, as a result of this misinterpretation, issued the wrong advice to Vote Leave in relation to £620,000 which Vote Leave sent, on behalf of Mr. Darren Grimes’ organisation, BeLeave, to a Canadian digital campaign company, AggregateIQ.
a) As a result of this ruling, Vote Leave claim, repeated by most media outlets, that this was the true reason for the massive discrepancy in their spending return and not that they had deliberately set out to circumvent strict spending regulations as the Electoral Commission had claimed.
b) Vote Leave Chief Executive, Matthew Elliott said at the time, “Vote Leave’s decision to give money to BeLeave rested on the advice we sought and were given from the Electoral Commission. We followed that advice, yet we were told that, by having followed that advice, we broke the law…the High Court has now ruled that this advice was wrong…today’s judgement effectively makes the Electoral Commission’s recent decision on Vote Leave redundant.” – see paragraph 24.
(12) November 2018, Shahmir Sanni, a Vote Leave / BeLeave whistleblower, wins his employment tribunal for wrongful dismissal against Tufton St entity, The Taxpayer’s Alliance (TPA). The TPA was founded by Matthew Elliott, Vote Leave’s Chief Executive. Mr. Sanni worked for the TPA following the 2016 EU referendum. By admitting to illegally sacking Mr. Sanni, the TPA were excused from disclosing communications between nine Tufton St entities – The TaxPayers’ Alliance, The office of Peter Whittle, former leader of the UK Independence Party, Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society Europe, The Adam Smith Institute, Leave Means Leave, The Global Warming Policy Foundation, Brexit Central, The Centre for Policy Studies and The Institute for Economic Affairs – all of whom, according to the evidence provided by Mr. Sanni, attended regular co-ordination meetings during the 2016 EU referendum as part of their political campaigning.
(13) November 2018, Vote Leave and BeLeave lose a High Court Judicial Review aimed at getting the findings of the Electoral Commission overruled, they argue that the Electoral Commission did not have the authority to publish their findings. The judgment by Mrs Justice Yip declared: “I do not consider that the claimant’s grounds are arguable”.
(14) February 2019, LeaveEU and Eldon Insurance, owned by its founder Arron Banks, are fined £120,000 over data law breaches. The fines followed an Information Commissioner investigation into the misuse of personal data by political campaigns. The ICO investigation found that more than a million emails sent to LeaveEU subscribers contained marketing for the Eldon Insurance firm’s GoSkippy services. Eldon Insurance were also fined £60,000 for the breach. UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “It is deeply concerning that sensitive personal data, gathered for political purposes, was later used for insurance purposes and vice versa.
(15) February 2019, following an earlier December 2018 decision in the High Court, in which the judge ruled their case was out of time and lacked merit, Wilson and Others v The Prime Minister lose their appeal for a judicial review of the 2016 referendum, specifically the legal validity of the PMs decision and A50 notification (based solely on the outcome of the referendum as the mandate) which the appellant claimed was impaired by the unlawful referendum campaign, as per the Electoral Commission findings in May and July 2018. See Note I below
(16) March 2019, the Central London County Court uphold the decision of the Electoral Commission to fine LeaveEU for four offences during the 2015 EU referendum; aspects of LeaveEU’s appeal were allowed, namely that their £247,000 spend with political consultant ‘Goddard Gunster’ was not reportable as the judge found this was ‘political strategic advice’ to Mr. Arron Banks personally and as such was not a reportable expense under schedule 13 of PPERA. LeaveEU’s fine of £70,000 was reduced by £4,000 to £66,000.
Electoral Commission’s Press Release on LeaveEU’s Appeal Case
a) Additionally, with regard to the £8m total, £6m + £2m, funding provided by Mr. Arron Banks, LeaveEU reported that “The loan agreement, to the LeaveEU campaign, was confirmed by the judge as being from Arron Banks and Rock Services was not a party to it.”
Andy Wigmore’s Victory Tweet Outside Court.
(17) March 2019, the UK privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioners Office, fine Vote Leave £40,000 for sending 196,154 unsolicited text messages during the EU referendum campaign.
(18) March 2019, Vote Leave withdraw their appeal against the Electoral Commission, paying fines and costs totalling £241,000.
Former MP and chair of Vote Leave, Gisela Stuart, defends Vote Leave, explaining that they had unfortunately destroyed their data and couldn’t prove their innocence. Gisela resigned her position as MP in 2017, taking up the role of Chair of Wilton Park, an Executive Agency of The Foreign & Commonwealth Office – Boris Johnson was in charge at the time.
(19) March 2019, Dominic Cummings, campaign director for Vote Leave, is found in contempt of parliament by The House of Commons Committee of Privileges who said, “Cummings’ refusal to give oral evidence to MPs constituted a significant interference in the work of the inquiry.”
(20) May 2019, at the London Assembly, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, confirms on camera, that, after twelve months, assessments, not investigations, of the evidence against LeaveEU and Vote Leave were coming to an end and a decision on whether to proceed to the investigation phase should be made in weeks, not months.
(21) July 2019, Mr. Darren Grimes wins an appeal, at the Central London County Court, against the Electoral Commission, with the judge ruling that the £20,000 fine be rescinded, adding that even if Mr. Grimes had committed an offence it would not have justified the maximum fine of £20,000. – See Note II below
(22) August 2019, the Metropolitan Police send a file on LeaveEU to the CPS for ‘early investigative advice’. In May 2018, the Electoral Commission had referred the responsible person at LeaveEU to the police because they were required, by law, to submit a complete and correct referendum return. It is an offence for that person to knowingly or recklessly make a false declaration. Civil sanctions do not attach to this offence; it can only be pursued via a criminal prosecution.
(23) September 2019, the Metropolitan Police, following the ‘early investigative advice’ from the CPS, conclude that, ‘whilst some technical breaches of electoral law were committed, there is insufficient evidence to justify any further criminal investigation into LeaveEU and cite that the Electoral Commission’s report into LeaveEU’s spending return should be read in conjunction with the County Court Judgment on 21st March 2019 (see paragraph 10) between LeaveEU Group Ltd and the Electoral Commission. – See Note III below
(24) September 2019, the Electoral Commission win an appeal over an interpretation of a point of law on referendum campaign donations and expenditure, which overturns an earlier High Court ruling from September 2018 – see paragraph 11b.
a) The High Court had ruled that three payments, totalling £620,000, made by Vote Leave Limited to an AggregateIQ, on behalf of Mr. Darren Grimes, who ran an unincorporated association called BeLeave, were “referendum expenses”. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, setting aside the previous order made by the High Court, and ruled that the correct interpretation of the legislation is that a donation to a campaigner cannot also be an expense incurred by the donor as maintained by the Electoral Commission.
b) The Electoral Commission welcomed the ruling that confirmed that they had correctly interpreted the law and welcomed the Appeal Courts ruling, saying, “In July 2018 we found significant evidence of undeclared joint spending between the lead campaigner in the EU referendum, Vote Leave, and another campaign group, BeLeave. We fined Vote Leave for this offence; they have since accepted and paid the fine.”
c) The Leave campaigns misinterpret the judgment, believing it to be another victory for the Leave campaigners. An typical example of the misinformation spread by the Leave campaigns and accepted by their supporters.
Misinformation from LeaveEU and a Leave supporting journalist.
(25) September 2019, the NCA find no evidence of any criminal offences committed, under PPERA or company law, by Mr Banks, Ms Bilney, Better for the Country Ltd or Leave.EU and no further action will be taken. – See Note IV below
Our statement on the National Crime Agency’s announcement in relation to its investigation into Better for the Country and other associated companies and individuals https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/ ... nouncement
Our full statement following the National Crime Agency's announcement is on our website
3:05 AM - Sep 24, 2019
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(26) October 2019, to date, fifteen months since the Electoral Commission referred Vote Leave, the Metropolitan police have not reported on their assessment of the evidence presented to them on Vote Leave’s activities during the 2016 EU referendum – See Note V below
Whilst lawyers and jurists eagerly devoured the legal nuances and the skilful machinations of opposing counsels in this constitutional battle of wits, the majority of people were left bewildered at the all too apparent impossibility of the appellant achieving a successful result.
The government’s argument centred on a seemingly brain wrenching collection of contradictions. Firstly claiming that the application was out of time – the deadline was six weeks after the referendum – but then simultaneously claiming that the illegality, by the Leave campaigns, had not reached the necessary finality, almost three years on from the event.
It was then claimed that the equally necessary materiality, as described in the Representation of the People Act, in terms of cause and effect, had not been proven, yet the strict spending laws only exist to prevent people buying elections and, in the words of the Electoral Commission, “ensure fairness, confidence and LEGITIMACY of an electoral event.” There are no set limits or sliding scale for application of breaking these limits, they’re fixed at a predetermined level and Vote Leave and LeaveEU deliberately set out to break them.
Sir James Eadie QC (counsel for the PM) also stated in court that the ‘true position’ was that, Theresa May, in proceeding with her Brexit plan, was well aware of ‘notorious facts’ of the findings of the Electoral Commission, ICO, DCMS, of the police investigations and appeals lost, claiming that those findings were ‘all properly done’ and conceded that the referendum result was unlawful; yet revocation would essentially be an ‘administrative inconvenience’ due to the length of time having passed since the referendum and parliament having moved on, legislated and debated the matter.
Most perplexing of all, for the casual observer, is that the judges agreed with the respondent on this matter, which could be taken as a sign that the judiciary do not wish to be involved in the catastrophe parliament created.
a) In February 2016 Conservative MP and key campaign committee member of Vote Leave, Mr. Steve Baker, wrote to colleagues informing them of a loophole in the referendum legislation which they intended to exploit, explaining: “It is open to the Vote Leave family to create separate legal entities, each of which could spend £700,000. Vote Leave will be able to spend as much money as is necessary to win the referendum.”
“It is open to the Vote Leave family to create separate legal entities, each of which could spend £700,000. Vote Leave will be able to spend as much money as is necessary to win the referendum.”
Steve Baker MP – February 2016
b) PPERA, and the Electoral Commission’s advice booklets, are littered with the phrases, “knew, or ought reasonably to have known” and “without reasonable excuse” – their explanations on what does not constitute a reasonable excuses include, “acting under a misapprehension” and “inadvertence” – once again, these are not acceptable as reasonable excuses.
c) In March 2016 Mr Grimes applied to the Electoral Commission to register as a permitted participant for the EU Referendum. He put down the name of the campaigner as ‘BeLeave’, but ticked the box to say he was applying as an individual. His application as an individual was approved as, at that time, the unincorporated association ‘BeLeave’ was not eligible to register as a permitted participant as it did not exist; it would only have met the eligibility criteria in May 2016 when, by the act of drafting a constitution and agreeing to that constitution, BeLeave’s five Board members created an unincorporated association. That association, BeLeave, came into existence on or around 18 May 2016, no attempt was ever made to register BeLeave.
d) According to the Electoral Commission, Mr. Grimes application was therefore correctly processed at the time, as an individual, he was also given the opportunity to review his application, again, at the time of his application, yet never contacted the Commission. The responsibility to comply with the registration and reporting requirements rested with Mr. Grimes.
e) The ‘BeLeave’ organisation appeared to closely match Mr. Baker’s ‘loophole’ scenario. Whilst Mr. Grimes claimed ‘BeLeave’ was his initiative from the outset – he told the commission that he “ran his own campaign using his own facilities” – the Electoral Commission’s evidence revealed that Vote Leave drafted the constitution for BeLeave, their website was set up by Vote Leave, its content was created by Vote Leave, Mr. Grimes consulted Vote Leave on campaigning, all of BeLeave’s funding came either directly from Vote Leave or was arranged by Vote Leave, and Vote Leave had significant influence over how that money was spent with Vote Leave’s supplier, Aggregate IQ; all actions the Electoral Commission identified as illegally working in pursuance of a common plan with Vote Leave.
f) Whilst BeLeave may have contributed its own design style and input, the services provided by Aggregate IQ to BeLeave used Vote Leave messaging at the behest of BeLeave’s campaign director. It also appears to have had the benefit of Vote Leave data and/or data it obtained, via online resources set up and provided to it by Vote Leave, to target and distribute its campaign material. This was shown by evidence from Facebook that Aggregate IQ used identical target lists for Vote Leave and BeLeave ads, although the BeLeave ads were not run.
g) In April 2019, Mr. Steve Baker MP, whilst appearing on the BBC programme ‘Politics Live’ – when confronted with the email mentioned in paragraph ‘a’ of this note – confirmed that, “at the time I sent it, I believed that it was lawful, now I am extremely angry with the person who badly advised me, they’ve never taken responsibility for poorly advising me, to the point that I wrote that and have ended up sitting here today having to defend it, but I am absolutely clear that my conscience is free of any blemish on this issue and I would point out that that was written before the regulated period and people can make mistakes.” He refused to reveal who advised him.
Steve Baker MP – Vote Leave Referendum Scam
h) In July 2019, Mr. Darren Grimes successfully appealed his £20,000 fine. At the Mayor’s and City of London Court, Judge Marc Dight found that even if BeLeave did not have a formal constitution by January 2016, it was clear it was made up of like-minded people who had an agreement to campaign on Brexit in a certain way.
Judge Dight said Mr. Grimes had tried to meet his obligations to the Commission, in filling out the forms, and that his actions were not dishonest or lacking transparency and, importantly, ruled that the commission had misinterpreted the law, in applying an incorrect interpretation of the common law definition of an unincorporated association, and had set a key legal test that was “too high” to decide whether BeLeave had been properly registered. He also noted the complexity of the registration form that Mr. Grimes had to fill out which the court heard was “difficult to understand.”
i) Outside the court Mr. Grimes stated, “The Electoral Commission’s case was based on an incorrectly ticked box on an application form – something that it had been aware of for over two years and had not been raised in two previous investigations – yet the Commission still saw fit to issue an excessive fine and to spend almost half a million in taxpayer cash pursuing me through the courts.”
Darren Grimes Comfortably Using Scripted Conflation on Politics Live – Before Being Confronted With Reality…
j) This clearly wasn’t the case, there had not been two previous investigations and the Electoral Commission’s case was so much more than an incorrectly ticked box; there was plenty of supporting evidence, they had whistleblower testimonies from Mr Christopher Wylie, Mr Mark Gettleson and Mr Shahmir Sanni, there was even Mr. Steve Baker MP, a member of Vote Leave’s campaign committee, describing in an email how Vote Leave were going to break the strict spending rules in the referendum by setting up separate entities and funding them to the tune of £700,000; exactly what happened with BeLeave, a scenario Mr. Steve Baker admitted was unlawful, on TV, over three years after the 2016 event.
k) This was the weight of evidence presented by Sir James Eadie, counsel for the Electoral Commission. Mr. Grimes’ case was that the Electoral Commission should have done more to point out to him the error on his registration form, despite publishing guidelines and affording Mr. Grimes the opportunity to review his application after submission.
l) Given that BeLeave did not exist at the time of that application – so his applying as an individual was correct – and despite all the evidence – despite Vote Leave and BeLeave losing a judicial review the previous year, despite Vote Leave dropping their appeal and accepting their fine for working with BeLeave to a common plan – the judge decided that it was not beyond reasonable doubt, the threshold in a civil case, and appeared to be both empathetic and sympathetic towards the plight of Mr. Grimes by rescinding his fine.
m) How can BeLeave be guilty, but their responsible person, Mr. Grimes, not be guilty when the Electoral Commission makes it abundantly clear that the responsibility to comply with the registration and reporting requirements rests with the responsible person?
a) Unable to obtain a copy of the judgment from either the London County Court or the police – it’s unpublished and they’ve both ignored all requests – it’s down to piecing together what happened from a journalist’s social media post, an Electoral Commission press release, a boast from LeaveEU and other publicly available sources.
b) In court, LeaveEU appears to have claimed that American strategist firm ‘Goddard Gunster’ provided strategy advice to Mr. Arron Banks personally, and not LeaveEU, therefore making it a non-reportable expense under PPERA.
c) This news went unreported by the MSM at the time, save for a single Guardian journalist, David Pegg, who tweeted, “The judge found that the group did not need to report spending with the US political consultancy Goddard Gunster because political strategic advice is not a reportable campaign expense under PPERA.”
d) Contemporaneously, LeaveEU claimed, “Goddard Gunster, the judge held, was not campaign expenditure and rules in our favour.”
Gerry Gunster Not Working For LeaveEU
e) It is almost beyond belief that Goddard Gunster only provided advice when there is an abundance of evidence, both pre and post-referendum, that Gerry Gunster was not working for LeaveEU but that their operation was directed by him. This evidence includes TV appearances, social media posts, accepting an award from the AAPC, a parliamentary appearance and a telling news article in PR Week, dated 29th June 2016, in which stated:
“A Goddard Gunster employee told PRWeek that the firm had some of its staff embedded in the LeaveEU office in London, and that 10 staff in the US were assigned to the account, while CEO Gerry Gunster regularly travelled to the UK.”
f) The same article also includes direct quotes from Arron Banks on the activities of Goddard Gunster, in relation to their activities with LeaveEU. Banks said that the social media activity also helped to create; “an extremely useful database that Goddard Gunster was able to mine, allowing it to conduct in-depth demographic polling and recommend precision target-messaging.”
g) He went on to say: “Our ground campaign could be focused on those areas where the ‘Leave’ movement had to make its greatest inroads to tip Brexit over the line. For example, we were able to direct or redirect our nationwide battle bus tour to those areas identified as holding large numbers of ‘persuadables’ – and those persuadables who were most likely to be receptive to the LeaveEU message as opposed to the rather staid, impersonal messaging of other campaign groups.”
h) The above statement by Banks’ echoes what business partner, Andy Wigmore, said on both social media and in interviews to the press, namely that Cambridge Analytica were involved in the beginning, Wigmore said: “Cambridge Analytica provided initial help and guidance to the LeaveEU campaign, which then went on to develop its own artificial intelligence analysis methodology. The AI machine learning was developed in Bristol by 20 mathematicians and actuaries with input from Cambridge Analytica at the very beginning and then executed by Goddard Gunster.”
i) And then in July 2019, over three years after the referendum, Parliament published a letter from former Cambridge Analytica employee, Brittany Kaiser, in which she stated: “Chargeable work was completed for UKIP and LeaveEU, and I have strong reasons to believe that those data sets and analysed data processed by Cambridge Analytica were later used by the LeaveEU campaign without Cambridge Analytica’s further assistance.”
j) Arron Banks finished his PR Week interview by stating: “Goddard Gunster managed a near-exact referendum prediction of fifty-two to forty-eight in favour of Leave, while establishment pollsters got it wrong yet again.”
k) Backing up the PR Week piece was an interview with Gerry Gunster himself in a June edition of the Washingtonian, who, asked by Elaina Plott, “You helped run this campaign from DC. What was a typical day like for you?” Gerry Gunster replied: “Goddard Gunster embedded staff in the LeaveEU office in London, and I myself spent a good deal of time in the UK. And it was not just London—Oxford, Manchester, Bristol, the Midlands and more. But while I was in the US, my typical day started with waking in the wee hours to respond to emails and hold calls with LeaveEU staff before heading into my office.”
Banks at the Master Investor Show March 2017
l) Later that same month, in March 2017, at the Master Investor Show – run by Banks’ business partner, Jim Mellon, – Banks, talking of the EU referendum, stated: “We used some American technology that used artificial intelligence, which funny enough we’re now using on our business so we’ve had some good business wins out of it, but essentially with a very large poll of nearly 20,000 people, using artificial intelligence on social media, we got the result within 0.1%, fifty-two forty-eight, so the technology around using social media to work out trends is much more powerful than traditional polling companies.”
m) Was this evidence presented to the judge? When did the police interview Gerry Gunster and former staff of Goddard Gunster? What did the Electoral Commission rely upon in their case and what did the judge rely upon when making his/her decision? Obtaining the unpublished judgment would be the first step to understanding and answering these vital questions.
a) Via ‘Better For The Country Ltd’ Arron Banks donated a total of £8,000,000 to various campaign groups during the 2016 referendum. The source of this large sum of money inevitably drew suspicion due to Banks’ companies chequered performances and his use of opaque offshore entities.
November 2018, Banks on Marr Show Twice Confirms That The Money Was GENERATED by And SUPPLIED by ROCK SERVICES, a British Registered Company.
Once Again, Banks Explains The Source of The £8,000,000
b) When first questioned on the source of the funding, Banks, during an earlier BBC interview, at first claimed it was his own money, a story which then evolved into it being supplied by one of his UK registered companies, Rock Services Ltd, a company which generates money in the UK; a story he also told to camera at the DCMS committee in June 2018 and on the Andrew Marr show in November 2018, above.
c) However, as seen in paragraph 10 of this timeline, LeaveEU appear to have presented evidence in a March 2019 court case which convinced the judge that the money did not originate from Rock Services Ltd but from Banks himself.
d) The NCA released a more definitive explanation in September 2019. Their investigation concluded: (e-g)
e) “Mr Banks took a loan from Rock Holdings Ltd, a company of which he is the ultimate beneficial owner. He was legally entitled to do so.”
f) “Mr Banks was legally entitled, in his capacity as an individual, to release these funds to Better for the Country Ltd, by instructing another of his companies, Rock Services Ltd, to make the transactions on his behalf. The loan was in fact to LeaveEU but the monies were paid to Better for the Country Ltd as it administered the campaign.”
g) “Rock Holdings Ltd was not involved in these transactions in a manner which contravened PPERA.”
h) Whilst Mr. Banks, as the ultimate owner of Rock Holdings, is clearly legally entitled to take a loan from Rock Holdings Ltd – as would be any other director – the company is a legal entity in its own right, a legal entity registered in the Isle of Man and, as with any legal entity, its assets, including money in its accounts, does not belong to its directors or its ultimate owner, it belongs to that legal entity.
i) PPERA clearly states, “Regulated donees should note that the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar do not form part of the UK and that companies registered there are not permissible donors or lenders under PPERA.”
j) Clearly this was not the story that Mr. Banks told to the BBC or the DCMS. How, given the restrictions under PPERA, did a regulated donee accept a loan from an intermediary (Banks) which was ultimately from an impermissible lender – an Isle of Man registered entity – a scenario highlighted as a criminal act, a transaction that would be void, and, as with any money received by the donee impermissibly, would be required to be repaid?
k) There is a precedent for determining the ultimate source of a donation. PPERA states, “It is the legal responsibility of a regulated donee, when receiving a donation, to take all reasonable steps forthwith to satisfy themselves that the source of a donation is permissible within the relevant rules.”
l) It is well known that there are specific rules governing the identification of donors to political parties in Northern Ireland. In 2018, when the Electoral Commission appeared before the DCMS, they were questioned on the true and ultimate source of another opaque donation from the 2016 EU referendum, £434,981 supplied to the DUP by the Constitutional Research Council (CRC), an unincorporated funding organisation fronted by former Scottish Conservative chair, Richard Cook, a funder of the Conservative MP and leader of the European Research Group (ERG), Steve Baker, the author of the infamous memo describing how Vote Leave were going to circumvent EU referendum spending laws.
m) With regard to the donation from the CRC, the then head of the Electoral Commission, Claire Bassett, told the DCMS, “We are restricted by law on what we can say about any donations made before 2017; it is a situation that we do not really want to be in, it is deeply regrettable” whilst Louise Edwards, Head of Regulations at the Electoral Commission, when asked whether there was a common plan between the Constitutional Research Council donating £435,000 to the DUP and their booking of an advert for £280,000 in the Metro newspaper, in London, on behalf of Vote Leave, (including spending £32,000 with AggregateIQ), Ms Edwards replied, “There is not a way for me to answer that question that does not put me in breach of the law, I am afraid”.
n) When asked whether the money from the CRC donated to the DUP was from the UK, and not of foreign origin (which would make it impermissible in UK law), Claire Bassett replied that “we were satisfied that the donors (to CRC) were permissible.”
0) The synergy is clear; as with Banks, the CRC was acting as an intermediary, a conduit for money from another source. The Electoral Commission were satisfied that the ultimate source of the CRC money was permissible, but are unable, under electoral law relating to Northern Ireland, to reveal that source. With Banks, the NCA has identified that the source of the money, used to finance the LeaveEU Group Ltd referendum campaign, was Rock Holdings, an Isle of Man registered entity and therefore impermissible.
p) By way of explanation, when Banks received a loan from Rock Holdings Ltd, that money became his money, in the same way money going into the accounts of Rock Holdings Ltd become its money. The money of an impermissible source.
q) The NCA have not revealed any further details on the ultimate source of the money in the Rock Holdings account, that was used to provide loans to Banks. There are no laws restricting them from doing so.
r) The Electoral Commission state that, “The spending limit is a vital tool, which parties and campaigns are subject to at every election and referendum, to ensure a fixed ceiling on campaign spending. It is one of the KEY rules set out by parliament to ensure fairness, confidence and legitimacy of an electoral event.”
s) Did the NCA fully audit the management accounts and bank accounts, of Rock Holdings Ltd, to determine where the money, used to provide the loan to Banks, came from?
t) In December 2018, Banks confirmed that he had “given the police our bank statements and a full account of where the money came from.” In the same month, Rock Holdings Limited was threatened with charges of dissolution after being found in violation of Manx registry laws when the owners of Rock Holdings Athol Street office, where the company was at that time registered, filed a declaration which told the directors they had ‘no authority’ to use that address. The Isle of Man Company Registry gave Rock Holdings two months’ notice to resolve its situation which prompted the directors to act and secure a valid address. Why did the Electoral Commission state in their press release on the results of the NCA investigation, “We are concerned about the apparent weakness in the law, highlighted by this investigation outcome which allows overseas funds into UK politics”?
u) We have a serious problem in this country. The Electoral Commission and the DCMS have made recommendations to government over our outdated and inadequate electoral laws and they have been ignored.
“We are concerned about the apparent weakness in the law, highlighted by this investigation outcome, which allows overseas funds into UK politics.”
– The Electoral Commission – September 2019
v) The former head of the Electoral Commission, Claire Bassett, whilst still in-post, stated, “there is a challenge, where you’ve got overseas actors, acting overseas to influence in this country.”
a) In July 2018, Vote Leave was issued with a £61,000 fine by the Electoral Commission, in November 2018, Vote Leave lost a judicial review against that fine with a ‘Cummingsesque’ claim that the regulator did not have the authority to investigate them. In March 2019 they accepted their fine and costs paying out almost £250,000.
b) Vote Leave was fronted mainly by former cabinet and high-profile members of the Conservative party, many of whom are in now power today including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s special advisor, along with many members of his Vote Leave backroom staff.
c) Given that there was no investigation into LeaveEU by the Metropolitan Police – the referral, as confirmed by Cressida Dick, never got past the ‘assessment’ stage which relied on a seventeen month long exercise by a non-dedicated team of officers sifting through thousands of documents from the Electoral Commission and ‘early investigative’ advice given by the CPS on which the Metropolitan Police reached a decision that no criminal investigation would take place, a decision apparently predicated on the evidence provided by the Electoral Commission’s report into LeaveEU and an unpublished judgment in an appeal by LeaveEU which they substantively lost but which allowed key and important elements.
d) Notwithstanding the glacial pace of the Metropolitan police, their decision not to conduct a criminal investigation into LeaveEU is perhaps understandable given that the CPS advice is predicated on a seventeen month old report by the Electoral Commission and a court judgment which (allegedly) removed some criminal elements of the case against LeaveEU thereby muddying the waters of a criminal prosecution. However, this is not the case with Vote Leave; having lost a judicial review over their Electoral Commission fines and then dropping their appeal, paying their fines and costs totalling almost £250,000, there would appear to be very little in the way of prosecuting Vote Leave save for Darren Grimes case where he’s not guilty but his organisation, BeLeave, remain complicit in Vote Leave’s guilt.
e) There’s nothing important riding on the Metropolitan Police’s decision over Vote Leave – just the fact that 70,000,000 people, and hundreds of millions in generations to come, could be losing rights, freedoms and protections afforded by membership of the EU, due to illegal and possible criminal activity of people who are now running the country, and who delivered the result of the 2016 EU referendum.http://www.brexitshambles.com/a-thought ... -jeopardy/