I was 22 when I set up BeLeave, a youth campaign for those committed to leaving the EU. By my 26th birthday this summer, I’ll have been through a court case and three investigations for that campaign – all for fighting against the European Project our political class love so dearly. I’m now appealing against the imposition of a £20,000 civil sanction by the Electoral Commission, after three investigations over three years, for alleged breaches of election law. I’m challenging the Commission’s findings, and in my Counsel’s detailed submissions on Appeal, I reject the Commission's findings as wrong in law, perverse, and made after a deeply unfair process.
The Commission investigated me after twice finding that I had not broken the law, but did not disclose key evidence to me, nor allow me an adequate opportunity to challenge evidence on which they say they rely. Worse still, they only opened a third investigation after political pressure from wealthy Remain campaigners. In my Appeal, the Court will hear that the Commission did not even understand the law on Unincorporated Associations on which it relied to find me guilty.
On Friday 14th September 2018, the High Court handed down judgment in a case in which the Good Law Project challenged the Commission’s handling of the 2016 Brexit referendum. The narrow issue was whether the designated lead campaigner for the Leave outcome, Vote Leave Ltd, should have declared payments it made to an advertiser, AIQ, as an expense. The Court decided such a declaration by Vote Leave was legally required, even though the Commission had advised that it wasn’t; the Commission even insisted it had not given the advice until the email in which it did was produced! The Court made no findings that I did anything wrong.
The Electoral Commission’s Chief Executive wants to tough it out despite being in the wrong, and has brought in Field Fisher (City Solicitors) and Sir James Eadie QC to try and rescue it at vast expense to the taxpayer. I do not know exactly what Sir James is to be paid for opposing my Appeal, but a clue may be found in his remuneration returns for the last year which show he was paid £2.2 million just for his work for the Government.
For me, the case is not just about money, although for the record I don’t have anything like £20,000 to pay the fine. It’s about my integrity and whether we should be encouraging young people to take part in politics. Below you can find my submissions to the court, as well as the Electoral Commission’s reply, published for balance and context, as well as some video content on the topic. You can donate to my CrowdJustice page here – thank you.