November 20, 2017 / 4:20 PM / a year ago

Brexit campaign probed over possible breach of electoral finance rules

Anti-Brexit protesters wave EU and Union flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, November 14, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Electoral Commission has opened an investigation to establish whether Vote Leave Limited, the organisation behind the official campaign to leave the European Union, breached campaign finance rules during the 2016 referendum campaign.

The commission said on Monday its decision to open an investigation followed a review of previous assessments conducted in February and in March, which had resulted in no further action being taken.

“Since that time, new information has come to light which, when considered alongside the information obtained previously, has given the Commission reasonable grounds to suspect an offence may have been committed,” it said in a statement.

The investigation will focus on donations by Vote Leave to Darren Grimes, a Brexit campaigner, and to pro-Brexit group Veterans for Britain.

The commission said it would look at whether Vote Leave, Grimes or Veterans for Britain had incorrectly reported the donations, and whether Vote Leave exceeded its spending limit in the referendum campaign.

Matthew Elliott, the secretary of Vote Leave Limited and the man who oversaw the campaign itself, said he was unable to comment. Other Vote Leave officers could not immediately be reached.

The Electoral Commission had announced on Nov. 1 it was investigating whether Arron Banks, a major donor to a rival Brexit campaign, Leave.EU, had breached referendum finance rules.

Reporting by Estelle Shirbon and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by William Schomberg

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