Illegal overspend from Vote Leave altered EU referendum, says new report

Illegal overspend from Vote Leave altered EU referendum, says new report

Professor Philip N. Howard studied the digital campaign strategy and practices of Vote Leave and its impact on voter behaviour – using materials disclosed by Facebook to the parliamentary committee investigating “fake news” and publicly available accounts written by campaign insiders.

Howard who is the director of the Oxford Internet Institute provided an expert’s report to the claimants in the UK in EU Challenge judicial review. He concludes that Vote Leave reached tens of millions of people over the last few days of the campaign as a result of Facebook advertising purchased in excess of its statutory spending limit.

Croft Solicitors, which is acting on behalf of the UK in EU Challenge claimants, have now asked the High Court for permission to use the report as evidence at a hearing.

Professor Howard said: “Having studied its digital campaign in line with voter psychology and behaviour, my professional opinion is that it is very likely that the excessive spending by Vote Leave altered the result of the referendum.

“A swing of just 634,751 people would have been enough to secure victory for Remain. Given the scale of the online advertising achieved with the excess spending combined with conservative estimates on voter modelling, I estimate that Vote Leave converted the voting intentions of over 800,000 voters in the final days of the campaign as a result of the overspend.”

Read full story in The New European

‘Corrupt’ Vote Leave campaign undermines Brexit vote, court told

‘Corrupt’ Vote Leave campaign undermines Brexit vote, court told

The “corrupt and illegal practices” of the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum undermine the validity of the decision to leave the EU, the high court has been told.

Relying on findings made by the Electoral Commission about overspending by the pro-Brexit campaign, British people living in Europe have launched a legal case arguing the referendum result should in effect be set aside.

“Breaches of spending rules are serious offences that vitiate the referendum result,” Jessica Simor QC, for the claimants, told the court. “Corruption and illegality in the course of an election or referendum must have a consequence. Corruption and illegal practices undermine the rule of law and democracy.”

There was significant overspending, data breaches and possibly Russian involvement in the referendum, she said. “The electorate can no longer be expected to respect the result.”

See full story in The Guardian

Brexit Opponents Target Referendum Result in Latest Court Case

Brexit Opponents Target Referendum Result in Latest Court Case

A group making a last-ditch attempt to challenge the June 2016 Brexit vote asked a London court to review whether findings that “corrupt and illegal practices” took place during the campaign were enough to invalidate the referendum.

The lawsuit centers on an investigation into Vote Leave by the U.K.’s Electoral Commission. The agency said in July that the campaign breached legal spending limits, and said last month that it had referred payments made by Leave.EU and another pro-Brexit group to the National Crime Agency for investigation.

The Friday court hearing came as lawmakers were in the middle of a five-day debate on U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to leave the EU. In addition, the EU’s top court in Luxembourg will rule on Monday whether the country can revoke the Brexit process.

May came under fire at the hearing for “simply soldiering on” with Brexit and ignoring findings that Vote Leave broke election law.

May decided to take the U.K. out of the EU on the grounds that leaving was the will of the people, said Jessica Simor, the lawyer for the group “U.K. in EU Challenge” that filed the lawsuit. Her refusal to act on the findings of the elections watchdog is unlawful, Simor told the court Friday.

Full story in Bloomberg

Brexit: Campaigners seek judicial review of 2016 vote

Brexit: Campaigners seek judicial review of 2016 vote

The UK in EU Challenge group says the result should be quashed because of “misconduct” by pro-Leave campaigners.

Mr Justice Ouseley’s decision is expected on either Monday or Tuesday.

An earlier attempt to challenge the result was rejected on the grounds that it had not been proven that any wrongdoing affected the vote’s outcome.

The case is being brought against the government by four British citizens living on the European continent, Susan Wilson, Elinore Gayson, Carole-Anne Richards and John Shaw.

They say the Article 50 process, by which the UK is leaving the EU, should be halted due to breaches of spending limits and other irregularities by leave-supporting groups during the referendum.

Lawyers for the group say the infractions, which resulted in Vote Leave and Leave.EU being fined £61,000 and £70,000 respectively by the Electoral Commission earlier this year, cast doubt on the legitimacy of the result under the terms of the 1983 Representation of The People Act.

‘Proven illegalities’

Speaking after the hearing, Susan Wilson said she was hopeful of success.

“We also maintain our firm belief that the referendum result cannot be considered the ‘will of the people’,” she said.

“The Leave campaign’s fraudulent behaviour has been proven by the Electoral Commission and we are continually frustrated that the government fails to acknowledge the impact of this illegality and continues to defend its position.”

Read full story on the BBC website

Brexit: High Court to rule if referendum vote ‘void’ as early as Christmas after Arron Banks investigation

Brexit: High Court to rule if referendum vote ‘void’ as early as Christmas after Arron Banks investigation

The High Court will rule as early as Christmas whether Brexit should be declared “void”, in a legal case given a turbo-boost by the criminal investigation into Leave funder Arron Banks.

Judges are poised to fast track the potentially explosive challenge, after Theresa May’s refusal to act on the growing evidence of illegality in the 2016 referendum campaign, The Independent can reveal.


Lawyers describe that failure as “absolutely extraordinary” – given the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) probe into suspicions of “multiple” criminal offences committed by Mr Banks and the Leave.EU campaign.

Now The Independent understands the case is likely to move to a full hearing and a ruling within weeks of opening on 7 December, with the clock ticking on the UK’s departure from the EU next March.

Both its lawyers and a leading academic believe its chances of success have been given a big boost by the unfolding scandal and the government’s refusal to recognise the gravity of what is being exposed.

The government is expected to deploy Sir James Eadie QC – the star barrister who led the unsuccessful battle for the government to trigger Article 50 without parliament’s consent – in a sign of the case’s importance.

Read full article in The Guardian