Campaigners have called on the Chair of the Justice Select Committee, Bob Neill MP, to open an inquiry into why the Metropolitan Police have delayed their investigation into alleged criminal activity by organisations that campaigned to leave the EU.
Unlock Democracy, which campaigns for democratic and constitutional reform, has written to Bob Neill MP to ask that an independent inquiry is opened into whether there was any interference in the case, and why “political sensitivities” led to the investigation stalling.
In an exclusive report by openDemocracy published last week, it was revealed that the Metropolitan Police have stalled their investigation into whether Vote Leave, Leave.EU, or BeLeave committed any criminal offences, due to “political sensitives”. These cases were referred to the Met by the Electoral Commission earlier this year.
Unlock Democracy in collaboration with openDemocracy launched a petition last week calling for the Metropolitan Police to proceed with its investigation, which has been backed by over 8,500 supporters.
In July the Electoral Commission referred David Halsall, the responsible person for Vote Leave, and Darren Grimes of BeLeave, to the Metropolitan Police in relation to false declarations of campaign spending. In May, the Commission referred the responsible person for Leave.EU, Liz Bilney, to the Metropolitan Police on the basis that they had “reasonable grounds to suspect that the responsible person for Leave.EU committed criminal offences”.
Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy, said:
“Referendum cheats are being let off the hook. Electoral law is designed to protect our democracy, but if you can break the law and get away with it then what is the point of the law? The message being sent to the multi-millionaire elites that bankroll UK elections and referendums is clear: break the law, and the penalty is pocket change.
“Money is coursing through the veins of elections and referendums in the UK. The penalties for wrongdoing are so paltry they serve as an advertisement to those with deep pockets that breaking the law is a price worth paying. The UK urgently needs to overhaul electoral law to close loopholes and empower the Electoral Commission to take action and hand out fines that would put an end to cheating.”
Notes to editors:
About Unlock Democracy: Unlock Democracy believes politics must work for everyone because currently the rules of democracy aren’t fair. The organisation is owned and run by its members. Unlock Democracy works on a cross-party basis, and takes no position on the EU referendum result.
Further information: www.unlockdemocracy.org
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / 0207 278 4443 (between 10am - 5pm) or 07984 280 187.