Saturday 20 July 2019 11:57 am

BeLeave founder wins appeal against £20,000 fine for breaching referendum spending rules

Founder of pro-Brexit campaign group BeLeave, Darren Grimes, has won an appeal against a £20,000 fine for breaching spending rules during the EU referendum.

The fine, which was imposed by the Electoral Commission, came after Grimes’s group received a £680,000 donation from the main Vote Leave group during the campaign three years ago.

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The 25-year-old always insisted he was “completely innocent” and had not made false declarations in relation to the donation.

The spending took Vote Leave over its £7m legal spending limit by around half a million pounds.

The Electoral Commission argued that BeLeave “spent more than £675,000 with [Canadian data firm] Aggregate IQ under a common plan with Vote Leave”.

His lawyers claimed he had filled out the forms, which were complicated and hard for him to understand, to the best of his ability.

The judge agreed that Grimes had tried to meet his obligations to the commission and that his actions were not dishonest or lacking transparency.

“I am delighted and relieved that the court has found me innocent,” Grimes said after the ruling in his favour.

“This case has taken a huge toll on myself and my family, and I’m thankful it’s now over. I will be eternally grateful to all those people who have supported me – your generosity and kind words of encouragement have kept me going.”

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The Electoral Commission said: “We are disappointed that the court has upheld Mr Grimes’ appeal.

“We will now review the full detail of the judgement before deciding on next steps, including any appeal.”