Review of Brexit Party funding is 'ongoing', electoral watchdog says

Eleanor Rose
1 / 4

Review of Brexit Party funding is 'ongoing', electoral watchdog says

Review of Brexit Party funding is 'ongoing', electoral watchdog says

The Brexit Party's finances are still being scrutinised by the Electoral Commission, the watchdog has confirmed.

The Electoral Commission visited Nigel Farage's party's headquarters on Tuesday as part of its "ongoing" review into its funding model, amid concerns over where the donations were coming from.

A spokesman said the regulator saw no evidence of electoral offences during the trip.

But the watchdog also said on Wednesday that the review has not been closed and would continue beyond Thursday's European election.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage (AFP/Getty Images)

Former prime minister Gordon Brown had called for a probe into the party's finances, claiming "dirty money" could be being passed to the party by foreign organisations attempting to influence UK politics.

The Electoral Commission spokesman said: "Our review of the systems in operation by the Brexit Party is ongoing. This will inform our regulatory work following the European Parliamentary elections and any recommendations we make to the party.

"We will also make any recommendations on the wider issue of the workings of the political finance rules in our statutory report on the administration of the poll."

The spokesman said raising small donations and using online platforms was "legitimate" and "increasingly common in politics".

Former prime minister Gordon Brown called for a probe into the finances of the Brexit Party (Getty Images)

However, he added: "Both open up additional risk in relation to compliance with UK political finance law.

"This risk is that it increases the potential for individuals or organisations to evade the permissibility rules, which primarily seek to prevent significant sums entering UK politics from overseas.

"It is the responsibility of any organisation adopting such an approach, and campaigning to influence people's votes at an election, to ensure it has the systems in place to maintain its compliance with the law."

Meanwhile, a complaint alleging Nigel Farage failed to declare donations from Leave campaigner Arron Banks will be investigated by the European Parliament.

The allegation, made by Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder to European Parliament president Antonio Tajani, came off the back of reports by Channel 4 News that Mr Banks spent around £450,000 on Mr Farage in the year after the 2016 EU referendum.

MEPs are obliged under EU rules to declare payments made to them, as well as any other support given by third parties.

On Tuesday, Mr Tajani passed the issue to an advisory committee of five MEPs that investigates the conduct of members.

When confronted by Channel 4 News on Tuesday about the alleged donation, Mr Farage told the broadcaster: "I've taken no money at all, no cash at all of any kind, zero.

"I might have used the house. I have been to a party in America but I've taken no money at all."

When asked if he should have declared anything, Mr Farage replied: "No. Because it's nothing to do with politics."

A Brexit Party spokesman said: "We believe in continuous improvement and welcome constructive recommendations from the Electoral Commission to enhance our processes and procedures."

Additional reporting by Press Association