The Metropolitan Police has stalled the launch of any criminal investigation into three pro-Brexit campaigns – citing “political sensitivities”, openDemocracy can reveal today. Despite being handed their first dossier of evidence of potential crimes committed by pro-Leave groups over five months ago, the police force has made no progress nor logged a formal case into the activities of either Vote Leave, fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, or Leave.EU, the pro-Brexit campaign bankrolled by Arron Banks.
In May and July this year, the UK Electoral Commission reported that multiple breaches of electoral law, false declarations and covert campaign over-spending had taken place by pro-Leave groups during the 2016 EU referendum.
Substantial fines were levied, and the Electoral Commission’s reports and all related evidence were shared with Scotland Yard and the National Crime Agency. The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was then expected to investigate whether key individuals, including Leave.EU’s campaign chief, Liz Bilney; Vote Leave’s board official, David Halsall; and the founder of BeLeave, Darren Grimes, had committed related criminal offences.
Following inquiries by openDemocracy, the Met revealed it has yet to start any formal investigation, and has remained effectively stalled for months in “assessing evidence”. Pushed on why there has been no progress, or no formal case logged, a Scotland Yard spokesman admitted there were issues and “political sensitivities” that had to be taken into account. The Yard spokesman later added that the political issues related to “any allegation or referral relating to an election, and much else besides.”