'Electoral Commission must be abolished!' Calls for inquiry after Leave.EU humiliation

Writing for the Sunday Express today, Mr Banks has revealed that he has written to the chairman of the Commons digital, culture, media and sports select committee Julian Knight to demand an inquiry into the controversial watchdog. The billionaire businessman has been backed by senior Tory MPs who have called for the Electoral Commission to be scrapped and replaced. North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen said: “The Electoral Commission has shown that it is not fit for purpose and has pandered to the remainer lobby, it must now be abolished or replaced."

Wellingborough MP Peter Bone, who founded Grassroots Out, said: “It’s time Parliament looks into the Electoral Commission, they have serious questions to answer.”

Questions had been asked about the actions of the Electoral Commission after it was humiliated in the High Court last year when former Vote Leave campaigner Darren Grimes was cleared of allegations it had made against him.

Judges forced the watchdog to abandon attempts to fine Mr Grimes £20,000.

There had been concerns that key members of the Electoral Commission had been Remain campaigners against Brexit.

This included the chairman Sir John Holmes who has already faced demands to resign as well as nine other commissioners who made pronouncements in favour of Remain.

Mr Grimes said: “The supposedly independent @ElectoralCommUK allowed itself to become part of the [pro-EU] mob, swallowing [the] conspiracy theories. MPs need to get a grip of this out of control quango.”

Suspicions were also raised by a refusal by the commission to investigate Remain groups when Priti Patel presented them with evidence before she became Home Secretary.

Nigel Farage, a friend of Mr Banks, accused the Electoral Commission of being part of the “Remain establishment”.

He said: “The Remain establishment have behaved appallingly since they lost in the referendum.”

Former Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: “Another shocker for the Electoral Commission too whose days must surely now be numbered.”

Theresa May’s former advisor, Nick Timothy added: “The Electoral Commission is discredited and bust. It needs to be abolished.”

Meanwhile, former MP and Brexit Department aide Stewart Jackson said: “The Electoral Commission is well due abolition and the setting up of a new body with truly independent and accountable members and  staff.”

A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission said: “There is no substance to allegations that the Commission is biased. The Electoral Commission is an independent parliamentary body. Our founding statute, our published Enforcement Policy, and our internal processes all provide clear and meaningful assurance of our independence and impartiality.

“We have investigated campaigners and parties across the political spectrum, including those on both the leave and the remain sides of the EU referendum debate. We open investigations and impose sanctions where the evidence justifies it, irrespective of the political views of the party or campaigner concerned.

“We carry out our regulatory investigations to the highest standards. In the last five years, the Commission has concluded nearly 500 investigations. Only five investigation outcomes have been challenged in the courts and only a single legal challenge was upheld.”

She added: “The Commission launches investigations on the basis of evidence, not allegations or speculation. Our referral was made as the result of our own ongoing regulatory work, there was no complainant.”

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