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Vote Leave drops appeal against Brexit referendum fine

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Vote Leave drops appeal against Brexit referendum fine
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Vote Leave, which campaigned for Brexit ahead of the 2016 referendum, has dropped an appeal against a €70,000 fine for breaking electoral law, the UK's Electoral Commission has announced.

"Vote Leave has today withdrawn its appeal and related proceedings against the Electoral Commission's finding of multiple offences under electoral law, committed during the 2016 EU referendum campaign," the commission said in a statement released on Friday, March 29, the date Britain was originally set to leave the European Union.

"We have been advised that Vote Leave has paid its £61,000 (€70,800) fine and look forward to receiving the sum in full," it added.

'Unwarranted'

The campaign group, which was fronted by former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and current Environment Minister Michael Gove, was fined in July for breaking the £7 million (€8.1 million) spending limit for the vote.

It said in a statement released to the Mirror newspaper that it had dropped its case because it did not have the "financial resources to carry forward this Appeal, even though we are confident that we would have prevailed on the facts in court".

It described the Electoral Commission's findings and fine as "unwarranted and unsubstantiated".

The watchdog said in a report last year that it had uncovered "significant evidence of joint working" between Vote Leave and another pro-Brexit group, BeLeave. This included £675,000 (€785,000) spent "under a common plan" that Vote Leave failed to disclose and which meant the group exceeded its legal spending limit by almost £500,000 (€581,000).

The founder of BeLeave, Darren Grimes, was also fined £20,000 (€23,200). The non-registered campaigner "wrongly reported the same spending as his own", the Electoral Commission said, even though he had a spending limit of £10,000 (€11,600).