Three of the 10 members of the Electoral Commission committee that decided on the designation for the official “Leave” campaign had to excuse themselves from the meeting due to European Union (EU) links, with a further three also declaring interests but still allowed to sit in, raising fears over the Commission’s neutrality.
According to draft minutes of the meeting, even the committee chair Jenny Watson could not be present due to potential conflicting interests.
The minutes mention her partner being a board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), a pan-European body dedicated to discussing EU foreign policy. The minutes note that while the ECFR takes no organisational position on Brexit, individual members “might make arguments for or against Britain leaving the EU.”
Her partner also chairs the charity Global Dialogue, which has registered with the commission as a non-party campaigner.
She also reported being acquainted with former Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Brendan Barber, who recently joined the Remain the campaign.
Despite her being excused from the meetings, a Leave.EU campaign source told Breitbart London: “You have to be living in cloud cuckoo land if you think she had no influence over the decision.”
She is not the only person who had to declare potential conflicts of interest.
John McCormick admitted a friendship with referendum analyst Nigel Smith, who supports the Vote Leave campaign that won the designation. He was still allowed to sit in on the meeting.
John Horam, however, was excused after reporting he was “a member of the pro-Europe Conservative Europe Group, the parliamentary group Conservative European Mainstream, and of the all-party parliamentary group on Reform, Decentralisation and Devolution Group, chaired by Lord Foulkes.”
Meanwhile, David Howarth was excused after declaring he had “recently been awarded a research grant of over €40,000 from the European Parliament.”
He also said the European Parliament had subsidised regular junkets for his Public Policy students to visit Brussels and was a council member of Justice, “an organisation which had in the past received EU funding.”
Anne Carragher, who was allowed to sit in on the meeting, is listed as a trustee of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), which has received EU funding, although the minutes say she had “stepped back from her WWT role during the Referendum.”
Tony Hobman, who chaired the meeting in Jenny Watson’s absence, also admitted to having been a UK representative on the Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Supervisors (CEIOPS), a group that advises the European Commission.