Better Together fined £2,000 over missing receipts

Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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The Scottish referendum No campaign has been fined £2,000 by the election watchdog for failing to provide a complete campaign expenditure report for the 2014 poll.

The Electoral Commission dished out the fine, because Better Together’s report did not include invoices or receipts to support around £57,000 - the equivalent of five per cent of its expenditure.

The law requires receipts or invoices from political campaigns for all items of expenditure of over £200.

The Commission found no evidence to suggest that the omissions were deliberate, and took into account that the responsible person for the organisation made efforts to provide further supporting documentation after the deadline for the report had passed.

Better Together paid the fine in full on 12 January.

Bob Posner, Director of Party & Election Finance and Legal Counsel at the Electoral Commission, said: “The responsibilities of a registered campaigner in a referendum do not end on polling day. Transparency around who spends what at referendums, based on complete and accurate financial reports, is an important part of ensuring that the public has confidence in the democratic process.”

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In a second case, the Commission has fined the British National Party £2,400 for failing to deliver its statement of accounts for 2014 by the due date.

The far right party was granted an extension of one month to the 7 July 2015 deadline for submitting its accounts because it was experiencing difficulty in finding an auditor. After it missed this extended deadline, the Commission opened an investigation.

The accounts were delivered on 16 October 2015.

The Commission acknowledged that the party experienced difficulty in finding a new auditor, and that the party’s treasurer had some health problems which did not help the situation. But the watchdog concluded that this and other issues could have been dealt with in a way that did not delay the delivery of the accounts.

According to the commission, it took into account that the party had recently been sanctioned for other compliance failures and this is reflected in the level of the fine.

Any penalties that are imposed by the Commission go into the Consolidated Fund, which is managed by HM Treasury.