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DUP received payment from Vote Leave for Brexit campaign

More than half of the DUP's £435,000 Brexit donation was spent on a front-page wraparound ad in British newspaper Metro
Brendan Hughes

THE DUP has continued to face questions over its Brexit campaign money as it emerged the party received a payment from the official Vote Leave group.

The pro-Brexit party has come under renewed pressure in recent days to explain the exact source of a £435,000 donation for its EU referendum campaign.

There have also been questions over how separate Leave campaigns each began using a Canadian data analytics firm.

'Coordination' between campaigns without declaring expenditure jointly 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 spent almost £5m in total on AggregrateIQ – a Canadian company linked to Donald Trump's US presidential bid that 'micro-targets' voters on social media.

The DUP spent almost £33,000 on AggregrateIQ, but the party has not explained how it found out about the company or what it was paid to do.

Vote Leave was registered as the official campaign for a Leave vote last year.

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.

It has now emerged that the DUP was also paid by Vote Leave. Electoral Commission returns show the party received £723 for advertising.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has dismissed questions over the party's Brexit 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.

The Electoral Commission said it is not currently investigating any donations to the DUP, and that it has "has not seen evidence to suggest that the party may have broken the joint campaigning rules".

Both the DUP and Vote Leave have also previously denied any co-ordination between their campaigns.

Asked about the payment from Vote Leave, the DUP did not respond. Vote Leave also did not respond to requests for a comment.

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