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Brexit Party 'at high risk' of accepting illegal donations

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The Brexit Party has said all its donations for the European elections were above board
The way The Brexit Party collects money from supporters leaves it open "to a high risk of receiving and accepting impermissible donations", the Electoral Commission has warned.The watchdog, which visited the party's headquarters last month, said it had made recommendations to help it meet its "legal responsibilities". If it did not comply, the regulator said it could take enforcement action.Party leader Nigel Farage has insisted all its donations are above board. Under UK law, donations of
Amounts below that do not have to be declared, but some critics - among them ex-PM Gordon Brown - have said there is no way of telling whether those smaller amounts come from British or foreign sources, and therefore the system may be being abused.
How are political parties funded?
The Brexit Party topped the polls at last month's European elections. During the campaign, it said donations of ?25 or less had accounted for 90% of its total funding. It raised more than ?2m from small donors, thousands of whom paid ?25 each to become registered supporters.But Mr Brown suggested the party was getting round the declaration rules by accepting multiple "untraceable" donations directly online. Political parties have 30 days to return donations if they are unsure of their origin. To date, the Brexit Party has handed back one donation, of ?1,000, as the party could not identify whether it was from a permissible source.
'Robust measures'
The Electoral Commission said it was "legitimate" for any political party to adopt a fundraising strategy focused on raising small sums through online payment systems, including PayPal.But it said there was a legal duty on parties to check every payment they obtained online to ascertain the source of the donation and "not to accept any that they are not entitled to". Parties should request "as much information as possible" to ensure all money was from a permissible source, it said. In a statement, it said it had concluded that the "fundraising structure adopted by the party leaves it open to a high and ongoing risk of receiving and accepting impermissible donations". The watchdog's director of regulation, Louise Edwards, said it had made "specific recommendations to the party that will support it to meet its legal responsibilities when it comes to receiving funds". "Should it fail to meet those responsibilities, this will be considered in line with our enforcement policy," she added. Asked about the issue during the campaign, Mr Farage said the party's website "says very clearly, do not donate unless you are on the electoral roll or eligible to vote". Both the Labour and Conservative parties also have the option to donate via PayPal on their websites.The Electoral Commission will, in August, publish details of larger donations, of ?7,500 and over, given to The Brexit Party and other parties during the election campaign.
Brexit Party
Nigel Farage
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