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Darren Grimes: Brexit campaigner wins appeal against £20,000 fine

Darren Grimes

Image caption

Darren Grimes founded youth group BeLeave

The founder of the youth-focused pro-Brexit campaign group BeLeave has won his appeal against a £20,000 fine imposed by the elections regulator.

Darren Grimes was punished by the Electoral Commission last year, after being accused of breaching spending rules during the 2016 EU Referendum.

Its political work took place at the headquarters of the offices of Vote Leave – the official Brexit campaign.

Mr Grimes raised cashed online to fund his court appeal against the judgement.

He maintained that he was “completely innocent” of making false declarations in relation to a £675,315 donation from Vote Leave and accused the Electoral Commission of “bias” against Leave supporters.

But the watchdog insisted its investigation had been “thorough and fair” and that it had carried out inquiries into campaigners on both sides of the referendum battle.

Last year, the Electoral Commission found that BeLeave had “spent more than £675,000 with (Canadian data firm) Aggregate IQ under a common plan with Vote Leave”, which should have been declared by the latter but was not.

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

But Mr Grimes, a 25-year-old former fashion student from County Durham, appealed against the fine, citing “errors of fact, the law and unreasonableness”.

Responding to the success of his appeal, at the Mayor’s and City of London Court, Mr Grimes tweeted that he was “delighted and relieved”, adding that the case had “taken a huge toll on myself and my family”.

He added: “It’s vital that more young people are encouraged to get involved in politics and make their voices heard.

“I just hope that the punitive actions of the Electoral Commission don’t put my generation off engaging in our democracy.”

Darren Grimes: Brexit campaigner wins appeal against £20,000 fine}

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