Darren Grimes lashes out at ‘incompetent’ EC following appeal victory – ‘Absolute hell’

Darren Grimes appealed against the £20,000 fine imposed by the Electoral Commission, following accusations of breaking spending rules during the Brexit referendum. The pro-Brexit campaigner said a “massive weight” has been lifted following the judge’s decision. Mr Grimes told BBC’s Politics Live: “This wasn’t a reduction of a fine, this wasn’t the judge saying that the decision was unreasonable, this was the judge quashing their entire notice.

“Three years of my life have been absolute hell because of this quango, which is incompetent and not fit for purpose.

“I feel that a massive weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.”

Host Jo Coburn asked: “It was also referred to the Metropolitan Police, what’s happened with that investigation?”

The BeLeave founder replied: “So the Metropolitan Police wrote a very stinging letter, I don’t know if anyone saw it, about the Electoral Commission, saying they hadn’t handed over relevant documents.

“If you can’t disclose key evidence that could indeed exonerate me further, then you’ve got to ask what this Commission is doing.”

On whether the Met Police investigation will continue, Mr Grimes commented: “I have no idea.

“My solicitor has wrote to them today saying that the judge has completely quashed this notice and therefore what stage are we at?”

Tory MP Nigel Evans interjected: “How much did it cost? You and them.”

Mr Grimes responded: “Half a million the Commission has spent, taxpayers money. I fundraised, I will always be eternally grateful to everyone online who donated and allowed me to get to this point where I’ve cleared my name. But I fundraised £95,000 online.”

On why Vote Leave decided to drop their separate appeal, Mr Grimes commented: “Money, it’s expensive to do this. I would’ve went bankrupt if I lost this. And some people are in a position where they’ve got nothing to lose, which I didn’t have anything to lose. So it was all or nothing for me.”

Mr Grimes was fined after being accused of breaching spending rules during the EU referendum campaign.

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He insisted he was “completely innocent” of making false declarations, regarding a £680,000 donation to his BeLeave youth group from the main Vote Leave campaign.

The spending took Vote Leave over its £7million legal spending limit by almost £500,000.

Mr Grimes raised nearly £100,000 via an online crowdfunding campaign to appeal against the verdict of the Commission.

The Electoral Commission said: “We are disappointed that the court has upheld Mr Grimes’ appeal.

“We will now review the full detail of the judgement before deciding on next steps, including any appeal.”

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