London’s Metropolitan Police have finally dropped their investigations into working-class Brexit campaigner Darren Grimes and Vote Leave’s Alan Halsall, in another defeat for the supposedly neutral Electoral Commission.
The Electoral Commission, long accused of being politically biased against Brexit supporters, referred Mr Grimes and Mr Halsall to the police for having supposedly broken campaign spending limits during the 2016 EU referendum. The watchdog also imposed fines on both Mr Grimes and Vote Leave.
However, the maximum individual fine of £20,000 against Mr Grimes was later quashed by the courts after the student campaigner launched a crowdfunded appeal against the decision and was cleared of any electoral offences.
Now, after much delay, the Metropolitan Police have finally decided to drop the investigations into Grimes and Vote Leave after receiving advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), saying in a statement: “On Tuesday, March 3 preliminary advice was received from the CPS. This advice has now been duly considered and no further action will be taken.”
Would you look at that? It's almost as if it was all a show to seed doubt that a legitimate vote wasn't legitimate. Almost as if @ElectoralCommUK was acting in a political way …
— Lucy Harris (@Lugey6) May 8, 2020
Following the decision by the Met to drop the investigation, Mr Grimes said per The Telegraph: “Once again the Electoral Commission has been found to be part of the mob, a quango out of control that isn’t policing elections so much as punishing Leavers who have the temerity to win them.”
“My ordeal at the hands of the kangaroo court that is the Electoral Commission is now over, but questions must now be asked of whether that body is fit for purpose,” Grimes added.
Mr Halsall said that he was “delighted to have been exonerated” while thanking the police for their “professional” investigation.
“I was very disappointed that my colleagues at Vote Leave and myself were never given the opportunity of making our case in person to the Electoral Commission before being fined and reported to the police,” Halsall added.
“It seems a rather unusual way of conducting an inquiry into such matters that only the so-called whistleblowers who made these allegations are interviewed by the regulator,” he added.
Why won’t the Electoral Commission apologise to @darrengrimes_?
They went after him in the courts and then referred him to the police. Both times they were severely rebuffed.
Take some damn responsibility for your use of state power and taxpayer money. https://t.co/2BQUpft0Ii
— Matthew Lesh (@matthewlesh) May 9, 2020
The move by the Met to drop the investigation into Grimes and Vote Leave comes after Brexit backing businessman Arron Banks and Leave.EU CEO Liz Bilney won a settlement against the Electoral Commission after it admitted that there was “no evidence” to claims that the pair had committed criminal offences during the 2016 EU referendum.
Mr Banks said that the Electoral Commission should “face a Parliamentary select committee over the way they colluded with Remain MPs to create false Russia hoax,” after the settlement was reached.
Mr Grimes and Mr Halsall both accused the Commission of being biased against Brexit campaigners. A spokesman for the Commission said that there was “no substance to allegations that the Commission is biased”, claiming that the watchdog had investigated alleged wrongdoings on both sides of the political aisle.
Critics, however, have pointed to the fact that the allegations of criminal collusion by pro-Remain campaigners were not investigated despite the Commission being presented with a dossier of evidence from Priti Patel MP, now the Home Secretary.
Russia Brexit Hoax: Brexit Backer Arron Banks Wins Case Against Electoral Commission https://t.co/pzJg1hXv1i
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 30, 2020
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