Pro Corbyn group ‘Momentum’ fined over £16000 for breach of electoral law

by TR News

A fine of £16,700 has been imposed on Momentum, the grassroots organisation formed to support Jeremy Corbyn for multiple breaches of electoral law during the 2017 snap election.

The Electoral Commission said that the fine had been imposed for inaccurate returns on spending. This is the highest fine levied on a non-party campaigner, and also the first time the group has been investigated by the Electoral Commission.

Louise Edwards, who is the director of regulation at the Electoral Commission, commented: “Non-party campaigners are essential for a healthy democracy. But just as crucial is that after a poll, voters can see complete and accurate spending data.

“The fines that we have levied reflect Momentum’s repeated revisions to their spending return, poor record keeping and failure to follow the advice given by the Commission prior to the election.”

“Non-party campaigners that seek to persuade people to vote a certain way rightly have legal obligations; it is incumbent on them to invest properly in having the right processes and staff to meet their obligations. Momentum is unlike most non-party campaigners in that political campaigning is its full-time work, so it is particularly disappointing that they have failed to meet the law’s requirements”

The Electoral Commission also said Momentum had failed to cooperate fully, thus making the investigation “significantly” more complex and lengthy.

The far-left group, formed in 2015, has around 40,000 members.

By law, any donation above £7500 is required to be reported by Momentum within 30 days of acceptance as a “members association”

However, it failed to report a £10,000 donation from the TSSA back in July 2016, only reporting it in January this year, earning a £900 fine.

It also failed to report a second £8,000 donation from the TSSA in May 2017, only reporting it in July 2018, earning a  £450 fine.

These offences were committed while the responsible person was Puru Miah, a Labour councillor in Tower Hamlets.

The Electoral Commission concluded that Momentum had failed to submit a complete and accurate spending return and imposed a fine of 12,150, a record for a non-party campaigner at an election.

Further to that, the commission also concluded that Momentum had omitted £22,958.46 of reportable donations from a post-poll donation report, for which it was fined a further £2,700.

Momentum was also fined £250 for failing to provide a proper declaration accompanying a post-poll donation report and £250 for failing to provide the invoices together with their spending return.

The Labour councillor in Tower Hamlets, Puru Miah was the responsible person at the time of these offences being committed.

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