Activists campaigning for Britain to stay in the European Union have been revealed as the biggest breakers of electoral law, new figures have revealed.
Analysis by Heat Street shows that fines levied by election officials have been disproportionately levied on the pro-EU side of the debate, despite widespread claims that Leave voters were the unscrupulous side in the debate.
So far, the UK’s Electoral Commission has demanded that Remainers pay up £4,800 for breaching the rules, almost double the punishments given to wayward Brexiteers.
We have fined an EU referendum campaigner £4,000 for breaking EU referendum rules. See our release here: https://t.co/PdKd3FADYX
— Electoral Commission (@ElectoralCommUK) December 20, 2016
Among the Remainers found guilty were the trade union Unite and the ResPublica think–tank.
The biggest fine was given to Laurence Taylor, a private citizen who broke the rules by placing a full-page Remain-leaning advert in the Metro newspaper the day before the vote.
The advert – which attracted significant attention at the time – was mainly a pie chart which belittled the social impact of immigration.
The page showed a 0.5% slice words “why can’t we cope with a 0.5%/yr rise in population?”
It went on to say “…Oh by the way if we Leave and want access to the single market (40% of our exports I think) then people would have to accept the free movement of people…
“We could always try to negotiate something different but how successful do you think that would be?”
Laurence claimed to be non-partisan, but notably only attacked Leave arguments with his advert.
— Electoral Commission (@ElectoralCommUK) October 18, 2016
According to the Electoral Commission, Mr Taylor provided insufficient information on the ad for people to assess it, and was hit with a £4,000 fine.
The Electoral Commission stated Lady Sue Inkin and Mr Roger Gabb committed an offence when placing their adverts, “meaning that voters could not identify its promoter.”
Unite was fined £400 for not returning proper financial records, as was ResPublica.
In total, four parties for Leave were found guilty of breaking advertising rules, whilst three Remain groups and individuals were fined.
The Commission has so far upheld cases against other campaign groups without levying a fine, and dropped cases against four others.