Momentum fined more than £16,000 for multiple breaches of electoral law during 2017 election

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

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 06 March 2019 10:43
Comments
A member of the audience wearing a Momentum T-shirt listens to speeches at a Labour Party Conference
A member of the audience wearing a Momentum T-shirt listens to speeches at a Labour Party Conference

Pro-Jeremy Corbyn group Momentum has been fined more than £16,000 for “multiple breaches” of electoral law during the 2017 snap election.

Making the announcement, the Electoral Commission said the sanctions were for inaccurate spending returns as well as failures in donation reporting.

The grassroots group – set up in the wake of Mr Corbyn’s first leadership victory to support his left-wing policy agenda – was fined £16,700.

This included a penalty of £12,150 for failing to submit a spending return that was complete and accurate, and £2,700 for omitting more than £22,000 of reportable donations from a post-poll donation report.

It is the first time the group has been investigated by the commission and the penalties include the highest fine to be levied on a non-party campaigner for not submitting a complete and accurate spending return.

Commenting on the sanction, Louise Edwards, director of regulation at the commission, said: “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 advice given by the commission prior to the election.”

Responding to the sanctions, Momentum spokesperson Laura Parker said the errors were not “surprising for a new organisation which at the time was less than two years old and had 25,000 members and 150 local groups”.

But Ms Parker also criticised the level of “comic” detail required, adding: “In one instance, the Electoral Commission queried the purchase of a pizza, wanting to know what percentage of the pizza was eaten by staff members and what percentage by volunteers.”

She continued: “We also believe the fines levelled are disproportionate. The fines and associated staff time will cost Momentum more than our entire regulated campaign spend during the election.

“We won’t make these mistakes again. In accordance with the wishes of the Electoral Commission, we have put in place comprehensive systems and processes so we can fully adhere to the regulations next time and be ready for an election if it’s called tomorrow.”

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