As I type these words, there is much celebration on the social media at the news that Arron Banks and Leave.EU have been referred to the National Crime Agency for investigation over suspected offences related to the EU referendum of 2016.
Sorry to pour cold water on all this heat, but:
Aren’t the police refusing to investigate EU referendum offences because they are “politically sensitive”?
Here‘s the latest development, as reported by BBC News:
“The National Crime Agency is investigating Arron Banks and his Leave.EU campaign for alleged offences committed at the 2016 EU referendum.
“Mr Banks and another senior campaign figure, Liz Bilney, were referred to the agency by the Electoral Commission.
“The watchdog said it suspected money given to the campaign came “from impermissible sources”.
“Mr Banks has consistently denied any wrongdoing in connection to the referendum campaign.
“The Electoral Commission investigation focused on £2m reported to have been loaned to Better for the Country, which ran Leave.EU, by Mr Banks and his group of insurance companies and a further £6m reported to have been given to the organisation, on behalf of Leave.EU, by Arron Banks alone.
“Of this, £2.9m was used to fund referendum spending on behalf of Leave.EU and donations to other campaign groups during the EU referendum, the Electoral Commission said.”
There is no comment from the National Crime Agency but the reaction on the social media has been ecstatic:
Arron Banks and Leave EU have been referred to the National Crime Agency over "multiple suspected offences" regarding the EU referendum. A huge victory for Carole Cadwalladr and investigate journalism.
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) November 1, 2018
Carole Cadwalladr, whose investigative journalism managed to take the matter this far, had the following to say:
It is sheer MADNESS that it has taken this long to be referred to the NCA, that the government has refused to answer parliament's questions about the investigation…but FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY pic.twitter.com/jrkcmOMQiG
— Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) November 1, 2018
I have asked her whether she seriously believes an investigation will take place and will publish her response.
Let’s remind ourselves of what happened when Leave.EU was referred to the Metropolitan Police. This is from October 11:
“The Metropolitan Police has stalled the launch of any criminal investigation into three pro-Brexit campaigns – citing “political sensitivities”.
“Despite being handed their first dossier of evidence of potential crimes committed by pro-Leave groups over five months ago, the police force has made no progress nor logged a formal case into the activities of either Vote Leave, fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, or Leave.EU, the pro-Brexit campaign bankrolled by Arron Banks.
“In May and July this year, the UK Electoral Commission reported that multiple breaches of electoral law, false declarations and covert campaign over-spending had taken place by pro-Leave groups during the 2016 EU referendum.
“The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was then expected to investigate whether key individuals, including Leave.EU’s campaign chief, Liz Bilney; Vote Leave’s board official, David Halsall; and the founder of BeLeave, Darren Grimes, had committed related criminal offences.
“The Met revealed it has yet to start any formal investigation, and has remained effectively stalled for months in “assessing evidence”.
“Pushed on why there has been no progress, or no formal case logged, a Scotland Yard spokesman admitted there were issues and “political sensitivities” that had to be taken into account. The Yard spokesman later added that the political issues related to “any allegation or referral relating to an election, and much else besides.””
What do you think will happen?
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