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Claims give 'grounds for suspicion Vote Leave broke law'

Information provided by two whistleblowers gives grounds to suspect that the Vote Leave campaign broke electoral law, solicitors have claimed.
Lawyers acting on behalf of Christopher Wylie and Shahmir Sanni say there are "reasonable grounds" for the Electoral Commission to investigate the possibility of a conspiracy involving two senior members of the Leave campaign now working as advisers to Theresa May in Downing Street.
A 50-page opinion calls for an "urgent investigation" to establish whether a prosecution could be brought over allegations the campaign broke spending limits.Vote Leave and its former officials have all denied the allegations and reject all accusations of wrongdoing.The legal opinion, prepared by barristers from Matrix Chambers, says witness statements and documents provided by the whistleblowers "strongly suggest" that a donation of almost €680,000 made by the campaign to a youth Brexit group called BeLeave was actually used for the benefit of Vote Leave, to pay data firm Aggregate IQ for targeted messaging services.
Claims give 'grounds for suspicion Vote Leave broke law'

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Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie provided information
If the money was recorded as Vote Leave expenditure, spending on the campaign would have topped the €7m limit and establish a "prima facie case" that electoral law was broken.QCs Clare Montgomery and Helen Mountfield and barrister Ben Silverstone said there are "realistic prospects" that the group and official David Halsall might be convicted.They said there were "reasonable grounds" for the Electoral Commission to launch an investigation into whether any offences were committed "with the knowledge, assistance and agreement" of senior figures in Vote Leave.These figures include Stephen Parkinson and Cleo Watson, who are now advisers to the Prime Minister, as well as the campaign director Dominic Cummings.The legal opinion states: "Given the very close working relationships at all material times between Vote Leave and BeLeave, the way up which Mr Parkinson and Ms Watson supervised the work of the young BeLeave volunteers and that Vote Leave and BeLeave staff worked closely together on a daily basis, in the same office, throughout the referendum campaign, it can be properly inferred that Mr Parkinson and Mr Watson must have known about BeLeave's campaign activity, of which the AIQ targeted messaging was a significant part.
Claims give 'grounds for suspicion Vote Leave broke law'

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Vote Leave's links to BeLeave are being scrutinised
"In these circumstances, there are certainly reasonable grounds for the Commission to use its powers...to investigate whether any election offences committed by Vote Leave and Mr Halsall were committed with the knowledge, assistance and agreement of other senior figures/officers in Vote Leave, including Mr Parkinson and Ms Watson."Bindmans partner Tamsin Allen said the information the legal opinion was based on had been sent to the Electoral Commission, which did not have access to it at the time of its earlier inquiry into Vote Leave.
She said no communication had been obtained proving that Vote Leave ordered BeLeave to pass money to AIQ but there was a "strong inference" that this had happened.Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie believes Mr Parkinson and Ms Watson should lose their jobs at Downing Street.He said it was was "absolutely outrageous" that a Number 10 official had passed on to a New York Times journalist a copy of a blog by Mr Cummings in which Mr Parkinson effectively outed former Brexit campaigner Mr Sanni as gay.Ms Allen said Bindmans had successfully requested that references to Mr Sanni's sexuality should be removed from the blog and believed the issue had been "contained", only to find it had been sent out by the Downing Street official.
Claims give 'grounds for suspicion Vote Leave broke law'

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The solicitors said there were legal grounds for the Electoral Commission to investigate
"At that point, it was clear to us that there was no containing that information anymore," she said."That email, to us, meant that he had effectively been outed in a statement from an official Downing Street email."Mr Wylie said that if wrongdoing was proved, the referendum should be re-run."If you are caught doping in the Olympics, you get the medal taken away," he said.
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"This is about the integrity of the democratic process and can we trust a result where it is highly likely that overspending happened."British democracy is about listening to the voice of the people, not how much money you can spend, so it's important that we enforce the law where overspending happened."
news.sky.com
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