Darren Grimes – Statement by James Saunders
Saunders Law has been instructed by Darren Grimes to appeal a penal 'Final Notice' issued by the Electoral Commission fining him £20,000 for alleged Brexit irregularities. The appeal will challenge this Notice as being wrong in law, wrong in fact, predicated on a selective use of facts, and both disproportionate and completely unreasonable. Darren yesterday made a Crowd Funding appeal for funds to fight the case in Court, and is very grateful to the many who have generously supported him. As the Electoral Commission has chosen to publish its case in advance of the appeal, and so risk prejudice to due process, limited information about Darren's case is published below, and will be updated as matters develop.
Self-evidently, Brexit is the most important political issue of this age, and views are held passionately on both sides. Darren's appeal is however not about the merits of Brexit, but about his freedom to have and express his own opinions, to allow others to do the same, and about how democracy is to be protected. It is Darren's case that the Electoral Commission has failed him and society in that mission.
At the time of the Brexit Referendum, Darren Grimes was a 22 year old art student with a lively interest in politics, and a belief that his generation were under represented in politics. Darren had worked before for the Liberal Democrats but unlike them believed in Leave; he wasn't anti-immigrant either, so didn't support Nigel Farage. Being resourceful, he started his own movement, and called it BeLeave!
When the Electoral Commission was deciding in March 2016 who the official referendum campaigners should be, Darren wrote to them as himself/Beleave supporting Vote Leave's application to be the 'designated lead campaigner' for Brexit and applying for 'permitted participant' status which he understood was granted. Complaint is now made by the Electoral Commission that:
- He worked to a common plan with Vote Leave, when they themselves encouraged Vote Leave to be inclusive of others like him and BeLeave
- He ticked the wrong box on his application to be a 'permitted participant' although they didn't raise that with him as a problem at the time
- Anyway, BeLeave didn't legally exist, even though it was actively campaigning in the referendum
- Although they accepted his full accounts and paperwork in 2016, and have investigated his campaign twice already, they are now entitled to change their mind.
Darren ran his campaign from his student bedroom in Brighton, producing Leave videos and other promotional material aimed at young people, who like him communicated through social media. He was 24/7 interactive speaking to the generation who will have to live with any mess today's politicians leave behind them.
He received large donations and applied them scrupulously to publicising his beliefs. He accounted for the donations in returns that were independently audited, and even the Electoral Commission agree that he has been honest and open; despite that they propose to fine him the maximum possible £20,000, which he doesn't have.
It will be a privilege to resist this injustice on Darren's behalf.
Crowd Justice: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/darrengrimes/