Brexit: DUP not being investigated in reopened Vote Leave probe

The DUP's front-page wraparound ad backing Brexit in British newspaper Metro
Brendan Hughes

THE DUP's Brexit campaign is not being investigated as part of a fresh probe into Vote Leave's EU referendum spending, the Electoral Commission has confirmed.

The watchdog announced on Monday it had reopened an investigation into Vote Leave spending in the June 2016 referendum after "new information" emerged.

Its new probe will look at whether Vote Leave, the main pro-Brexit campaign during the referendum, exceeded spending limits and entered an incorrect return.

It will also investigate donations made by Vote Leave to student Darren Grimes and Veterans for Britain.

Earlier this year the DUP faced questions over its Brexit campaign money, including a payment from Vote Leave.

'Coordination' between campaigns without jointly declaring expenditure is prohibited under electoral law – a measure designed to ensure spending limits are not side-stepped through front groups.

Several registered campaign groups backing Brexit including the DUP spent almost £5m overall on the same Canadian data analytics firm.

A DUP staffer took a break from the party to oversee Vote Leave's campaign in Northern Ireland, and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds was a Vote Leave director.

The party also received £723 from Vote Leave for advertising, according to Electoral Commission spending returns.

Asked about the latest probe, an Electoral Commission spokesman last night said the DUP "are not being investigated as part of this".

DUP leader Arlene Foster has previously dismissed questions over the party's Brexit campaign money as a "re-heated story" from political opponents to distract from "real issues".

"We have satisfied ourselves that it was all kept within the rules, and we are satisfied the money came from UK business people," she said.

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