Over the last few days, we’ve seen and heard disturbing evidence that suggests Vote Leave, the official referendum campaign, may have cheated in the last referendum by spending up to a million more pounds than they were allowed to.
There are important spending limits for any campaign. Two coordinating groups cannot pool their spending limits but tt appears from the evidence that BeLeave and Vote Leave co-ordinated their campaigns which means that Vote Leave should have declared more spending than it did. It seems they used that scheme to overspend by £625,000, giving that money to a company called Aggregrate IQ (AIQ), which is closely linked to Cambridge Analytica, who had used misappropriated Facebook data to help get Donald Trump elected.
That extra money could have bought billions of extra online adverts in the final days of the election. With a result so close, any such cheating could have made the difference.
After the authorities started to investigate, people involved were less than truthful. Emails were deleted, the young volunteers were instructed what to say, and senior Vote Leave staff restricted their access to hundreds of files on a drive shared by Vote Leave, BeLeave and AIQ. If this was destruction of relevant evidence it would – unsurprisingly – also be illegal. All the senior Vote Leave officials mentioned, and Darren Grimes, have specifically denied behaving unlawfully in the EU Referendum.