The Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset should investigate alleged illegal spending in the lead up to the 2016 EU referendum, claims Molly Scott Cato, Bristol's Green MEP.
In a letter to Sue Mountstevens , Dr Scott Cato points to the fact that Bristol was a key geographical location to a series of alleged offences. In particular, Better for the Country Ltd (BFTC), a company that is registered in Bristol, stands accused of funding so-called ‘twitter bots’ – computer algorithms that send out automated posts, in a process that contravenes normal democratic standards and may be illegal.
The letter comes as the Electoral Commission announces it is to investigate whether ex-UKIP donor and local resident, Arron Banks, broke donation rules during the EU referendum campaign . Molly Scott Cato said:
“There have been a growing number of worrying reports about alleged illegal spending in the lead up to the 2016 EU referendum, and it seems Bristol is central to many of these claims. BFTC is registered in Bristol and Mr Banks, who lives in the Bristol region, is one of its directors. The company made donations totalling £2.3m to campaigners ahead of the referendum and Arron Banks gave Leave.EU loans of up to £5 million.
“Mr Banks has never been very keen on facts, saying 'facts don’t work'; he claimed that too many facts resulted in the Remain campaign losing the referendum . Well, Mr Banks cannot be allowed to avoid the facts when it relates to breaches of law. Although he likes to style himself as the ‘bad boy of Brexit’, he is not above the law and I am relying on our Police and Crime Commissioner to carry out the necessary inquiries to ensure that the rule of law is upheld.
“If the allegations being investigated by the Electoral Commission have substance this is deeply worrying for our democracy and casts a long shadow over the result of the referendum.”