We know of the lawbreaking antics of Leave EU, which comedy millionaire Arron Banks is still trying to bluff his way out of. And we know that Vote Leave indulged in all manner of questionable activities. What we now know in addition to all that is that Vote Leave also broke the law. And what should concern all who care about this country’s democracy is that the BBC is trying to spin the news as if it were nothing of much import.
That the news was coming was known last week, when Jolyon Maugham at the Good Law Project asked “Has Vote Leave broken the law?” before telling “The Electoral Commission thinks so”. There was more: “We know that the Electoral Commission reopened its investigation into Vote Leave, Darren Grimes and Veterans for Britain after the Good Law Project initiated judicial review proceedings”. So what did they find?
Dominic Cummings - contempt for Parliament
“We can tell, from the reference to ‘in accordance with statute they have 28 days’, that the Electoral Commission is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Vote Leave, Darren Grimes and Veterans for Britain have broken the law”. Maugham notes “if you win an election in breach of the rules, if you win it by cheating, then you cannot be said to have been democratically elected”. The corollary is in the realm of the bleeding obvious.
Laura Kuenssberg - is she spinning?
Fast forward eight days, and Beeb political editor Laura Kuenssberg has told “Watchdog expected to find Vote Leave broke rules”. Only “rules”. Not “law”. Nothing to see here, it’s only a little rule breaking. Not lawbreaking, which would be rather more serious. At which point one has to ask from whom Ms Kuenssberg has been getting her talking points.
Take this part of her report: “The latest investigation comes after allegations were made by the whistleblowers Christopher Wylie and Shahmir Sanni that the official Brexit campaign broke the law by colluding with a smaller group, BeLeave … It is understood that the commission did consider this new evidence, but it is not thought that the new information was decisive in proving a breach of the law”. See, no lawbreaking at all!
Why this matters, and why suspicions have been raised as to who Ms Kuenssberg has been talking to, has been set out by the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr. “New from BBC: ‘Watchdog expected to find Vote Leave broke rules.’ And misleading from BBC. Because, they’re not ‘rules’ they’re ‘laws’. Let me help you here: ‘Watchdog expected to find Vote Leave broke LAW’”. Correctamundo. And there was more.
“They’re LAWS. Rules are what schools have. They’re laws which are the foundation of our entire electoral system. And this is an investigation into major electoral fraud directed by Theresa May’s special advisor & overseen by 2 cabinet ministers, so it’s a pretty important point … But do remember it's @theresa_may's advisor, Stephen Parkinson, who oversaw this - the biggest overspending scheme in British history. And that we've now established that @Nigel_Farage's Leave campaign lied about [their relationship] with [the] Kremlin. & there's no investigation into this. Nothing”.
Did Laura Kuenssberg just take Vote Leave damage limitation spin and serve it up as if it were reality? Vote Leave have been caught breaking the law. The BBC owes it to all of us to relay that fact, free from the spin of the culprits. So let’s hope that’s what they’ve done.