Britain’s official Brexit campaign has been rocked by allegations it broke the country’s electoral law.
According to documents shared with the police, the Electoral Commission accused the Vote Leave group of working together with a smaller pro-Brexit group called BeLeave to get around campaign finance rules during the referendum.
The report found that the Vote Leave campaign exceeded its legal spending limit of £7.0 million (7.9 million euros, $9.3 million) by almost £500,000, AFP writes.
“We found substantial evidence that the two groups worked to a common plan, did not declare their joint working and did not adhere to the legal spending limits,” said Bob Posner, the commission’s director of political finance and regulation.
“These are serious breaches of the laws put in place by parliament to ensure fairness and transparency at elections and referendums.”
The Vote Leave group has however denied the allegations, with its spokesman accusing the Electoral Commission of being “motivated by a political agenda rather than uncovering the facts,” claiming there were “a number of false accusations and incorrect assertions that are wholly inaccurate and do not stand up to scrutiny”.
The report said the BeLeave group, which was founded by fashion student Darren Grimes, spent more than £675,000 with Aggregate IQ, a Canadian digital political advertising company, under a “common plan” with Vote Leave.
BeLeave was also mentioned in the scandal over Cambridge Analytica, a now defunct British company accused of misusing data obtained from Facebook to micro-target political ads.
“Investigation files have been shared with the Metropolitan Police in relation to whether any persons have committed related offences which lie outside our regulatory remit,” the report said.
Vote Leave was fined £61,000 and Darren Grimes, its founder, was fined £20,000, the maximum levy for an individual.
But the Vote Leave spokesman said it had provided evidence to the Electoral Commission “proving there was no wrongdoing.
“We will consider the options available to us, but are confident that these findings will be overturned,” he said.
This comes as UK Prime Minister Theresa May faces increased pressure over her Brexit plan, leading to a string of resignations from her cabinet.