A competition has been raging today between the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, and Staines’ former tame gofer, the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, now claiming to be the Sun’s “Westminster Correspondent”. They are seeing who can be the most vocal advocate of Darren Grimes, the fashion student who was “given” over half a million notes towards the end of the referendum campaign.
Grimes, as Zelo Street regulars will know, was handed a £20,000 fine and referred to the Police by the Electoral Commission recently after it had been concluded by the EC that Vote Leave, and Grimes’ offshoot BeLeave, had broken the law in the run-up to the EU referendum. Both Fawkes and Sun copy has been equally blatant.
“Darren Grimes, the BeLeave Brexit hero of the revolution who has been hit with a huge personal £20,000 fine by the Electoral Commission – for the crime of accidentally ticking the wrong box - is crowdfunding an appeal. Darren is raising £20,000 to fight the decision and expose the Electoral Commission’s shameless Remain bias” claim the Fawkes rabble, while the Super Soaraway Currant Bun mines the same seam of dishonesty.
FURTHER cash? What's with the FURTHER cash?
“Darren Grimes, 24, was last week told he had broken strict spending laws by the Electoral Commission - and has been referred to the police … But he claims the charges against him were ‘trumped up’ - because members of the commission are fanatical opponents of Brexit … Mr Grimes is now crowdfunding to raise the money he needs to [appeal]”.
And soon, the target had been exceeded, so both Sun and Fawkes were celebrating. But there was a problem, and an examination of the Fawkes post’s history tells us what that might be. Although the current version says “Cash raised will make sure Darren has the best legal case to take to court and fight the Electoral Commission”, the first version looks rather different - and potentially legally very shaky indeed.
Ooh look - FURTHER now edited out
That was worded “Further cash raised will make sure Darren has the best legal case to take to court and fight the Electoral Commission”, with the clear inference that the initial £20,000 was to pay off Grimes’ fine of the same amount.
However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the current issue of Private Eye magazine (#1475, available at all good news outlets) contains a cautionary tale for The Great Guido. “Tim Worstall of the Adam Smith Institute … set up a JustGiving page last week ‘to help Darren Grimes fund his Electoral Commission fine’ but Worstall may not have thought this one through” it tells. Had Worstall goofed?
"Ensuring he's not driven into debt by the £20,000 fine"
He may well have. “Grimes was fined in his capacity as a registered ‘permitted participant’ for spending in the EU referendum, and UK election law has very strict rules about declarable donations … JustGiving doesn’t comply with them: its donors don’t have to give their name or address, or be resident in the UK. At least seven anonymous benefactors chipped in for Grimes”. One was from Switzerland. And there was more.
“Within hours well-wishers had raised more than £2,000 … but then the group’s aims were suddenly rewritten: ‘We’re raising £20,000 to collect money for Darren Grimes in order to pay his legal fees’”. And soon after, the page was shut down.
"Covers cost of ... fine". OH WHAT A GIVEAWAY
And it isn’t only the Fawkes blog which has suggested that Grimes may use his initial £20,000 to pay off his fine - the Sun has told readers “Mr Grimes added that as well as ensuring he's not driven into debt by the £20,000 fine, he is keen to stop any future politically motivated witch hunts”. So it’s about paying his fine, then? Because if it, it’s against the T&Cs of The crowdjustice site.
Moreover, paying off the fine would come under “declarable donations”, and unless everyone who has donated is (a) a UK resident, and (b) has given their correct full name and address, someone (hello Master Cole) could find themselves in the poo big time.
And that someone could include not only the Fawkes rabble, but also the Murdoch press. Ah, the expertise of modern journalism, eh? Another fine mess, once again.