Dear Electoral Commission,

please could you

1) confirm or deny that you are aware of 3 whistle blowers, who have made serious allegations about unlawful spending during the EU referendum
2) confirm or deny that you have received an assessment of their evidence by two QCs and a barrister
3) disclose to me what action if any you are now taking to investigate that evidence and the associated allegations
4) disclose to me - if the allegations are upheld - what penalty will follow and what consequence for the outcome of the referendum

Yours faithfully,

P. John

FOI, Electoral Commission

Dear Mr John,

 

Our Ref: FOI 063/15

 

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act dated 14
April 2018, recieved by the Commission on 16 April 2018, concerning:

 

1) confirm or deny that you are aware of 3 whistle blowers, who have made
serious allegations about unlawful spending during the EU referendum

2) confirm or deny that you have received an assessment of their evidence
by two QCs and a barrister

3) disclose to me what action if any you are now taking to investigate
that evidence and the associated allegations

4) disclose to me - if the allegations are upheld - what penalty will
follow and what consequence for the outcome of the referendum

 

The Commission aims to respond to requests for information promptly and
within the statutory timeframe of twenty working days.

 

You may expect to receive a reply sent from the Commission by 11 May 2018.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Humayra Siddika

Information Management Adviser

The Electoral Commission

3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ

[1]electoralcommission.org.uk

[2]yourvotematters.co.uk

 

[3]Twitter | [4]Facebook | [5]Blog

 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/
2. https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/
3. https://twitter.com/ElectoralCommUK
4. https://www.facebook.com/electoralcommis...
5. http://ukelectoralcommission.wordpress.c...

FOI, Electoral Commission

Dear P. John,

 

Our Ref: FOI 063/18

 

Thank you for your email to the Electoral Commission dated 14 April 2018,
received by the Commission on 16 April 2018.

 

The Commission aims to respond to requests for information promptly and
has done so within the statutory timeframe of twenty working days.

Your request is in bold below followed by our response.

 

1) confirm or deny that you are aware of 3 whistle blowers, who have made
serious allegations about unlawful spending during the EU referendum

2) confirm or deny that you have received an assessment of their evidence
by two QCs and a barrister

3) disclose to me what action if any you are now taking to investigate
that evidence and the associated allegations

4) disclose to me - if the allegations are upheld - what penalty will
follow and what consequence for the outcome of the referendum

 

Our response is as follows:

 

We are aware of individuals who have recently made public concerns about
whether certain campaigners in the EU referendum complied with the
campaign finance rules set out in the Political Parties, Elections and
Referendums Act 2000. As you have not identified the three individuals you
refer to I cannot confirm or deny if we are aware of those individuals, or
whether we have received any legal assessment of those individuals’
evidence.

 

The information requested in 3) and 4) above is exempt under the Freedom
of Information (FOI) Act as per below.

 

The Commission has a number of ongoing investigations in respect of
campaigners in the EU referendum.

Exemption under section 30 and 31 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act

The Commission has a statutory function to conduct investigations into
potential breaches of the reporting requirements in Political Parties,
Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (“PPERA”).

Section 30(1)(a)(i) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) provides
for exemption from disclosure of information which has been held at any
time by a public authority for the purpose of any investigation which the
authority has a duty to conduct with a view to it being ascertained
whether a person should be charged with an offence.

Moreover, section 31(1)(a) of the FOI Act provides for an exemption from
disclosure of information which would prejudice the prevention or
detection or crime.

A further exemption from disclosure can be found in section 31(1)(b) of
the FOI Act, where information which would prejudice the apprehension or
prosecution of offenders is exempt.

Where there is no evidence of criminal activity, or in any other
circumstances, the Commission may consider civil breaches of PPERA. In so
far as the investigation relate to other potential breaches of PPERA,
section 31(1)(g) of the FOI Act exempts from disclosure information that
would or would be likely to prejudice the exercise of the Commission’s
functions under PPERA for the purposes of ascertaining whether any person
has failed to comply with the law (as provided by section 31(2)(a) of the
FOI Act). Section 31 of the FOI Act applies only to the extent that the
information is not exempt under section 30.

The public interest test

Applications of the section 30 and 31 exemptions are both subject to the
public interest test. There are a number of factors that must be
considered and weighed in the balance. The factors we have considered are
set out below.

The public interest lies in enabling the Commission to undertake inquiries
as part of its investigation powers so that it can make regulatory
decisions based on a firm factual basis and to gather such evidence and
facts on a confidential basis. It is in the public interest to maintain
this confidentiality, as it encourages the free and frank exchange of
information from third parties to the Commission without which the
Commission could not perform its statutory functions.

The Commission aims to be robust and fair in its regulatory decisions. We
acknowledge that there is a legitimate public interest in carrying out
investigations in an open and transparent way, and in promoting public
understanding of the decisions we make as a regulator. These are matters
we acknowledge and take into account, including when deciding whether to
disclose information, whilst ensuring proper regulation of party political
funding.

In carrying out effective inquiries the Commission depends on being able
to secure the cooperation of those individuals and entities from whom we
seek information. Whilst the Commission has powers to require information,
the co-operation of the regulated community and other enforcement agencies
remains essential to our ability to conduct our statutory functions. As
our investigations rely on gathering evidence from these individuals and
entities it is clearly in the public interest that we maintain their
co-operation and avoid releasing information that could prevent exchange
of relevant information in the future and have the effect of hindering our
ability to conduct our statutory functions.

Those individuals and entities had, and continue to have, a reasonable
expectation that information provided in the course of the investigation
would not be made available to the public at large. If information
provided in the course of our investigation was made public under the FOI
Act, it would make individuals and entities reluctant to co-operate and
may prejudice interactions with them as well as others in the future. This
would in turn impact on the type, timeliness, and quality of information
provided to the Commission during its investigations which would prejudice
the Commission’s ability to conduct its statutory functions.

Decision on disclosure

Having carefully weighed the public interest relating to possible
disclosure of the information requested under sections 30(1)(a)(i),
31(1)(a), 31(1)(b) and 31(1)(g) of the FOI Act the Commission is satisfied
that it is not appropriate at this time to disclose the information which
the Commission holds.

We consider that disclosure of the information you have requested would
prejudice the exercise of the Commission’s statutory functions and its
ability to conduct investigation such as in this matter, and is satisfied
that maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in
disclosure.

You may be interested to know that we publish details of concluded
investigations on our website. You can find details of closed
investigations [1]here.

 

I trust that this information satisfies your request. The Commission
strives to be an open, transparent authority, but in some circumstances we
cannot responsibly release requested information, and we ask for your
understanding in this regard.

If you are not satisfied with this response, please note that the
Commission operates a review procedure, details of which can be found on
the Commission website at:
[2]http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/ab...

Please also note that if you have exhausted all internal Commission review
procedures and you are still not satisfied you have the right to appeal to
the Information Commissioner. Details of this procedure can be found on
the ICO website: [3]https://ico.org.uk/

 

Yours sincerely,

Ashley Lardner
Information, Knowledge and Systems Manager
The Electoral Commission
3 Bunhill Row
London EC1Y 8YZ
[4][Electoral Commission request email]
[5]electoralcommission.org.uk
[6]yourvotematters.co.uk

[7]Twitter | [8]Facebook | [9]Blog

 

 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/o...
2. http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/ab...
3. https://ico.org.uk/
4. mailto:[Electoral Commission request email]
5. https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/
6. https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/
7. https://twitter.com/ElectoralCommUK
8. https://www.facebook.com/electoralcommis...
9. http://ukelectoralcommission.wordpress.c...

Dear FOI,

Thank you for your response to my FoIA request concerning "Vote Leave Whistleblowers".

Assuming you investigate and confirm the allegations of fraud made by various whistleblowers in the 'vote leave' camp, I look forward to the consequential prosecutions, and the annulling of the referendum result.

Yours sincerely,

P. John

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