Latest: Jan. 7, 2019
(Extremely) Limited disclosure at last!
It has taken the Electoral Commission, the so-called guardians of our democracy, 12 months to provide me with a transcript of an interview I did with them in January 2018, a transcript that I was a...Read more
Hi, I’m Darren Grimes.
You might also know me as the 22-year-old who the Electoral Commission recently fined £20,000 and accused of criminal conduct - principally because I ticked the wrong box on a form 2 years ago.
As you may be aware, I am just the latest in a long line of Leave campaigners that the Commission have issued trumped up charges against. I am raising funds to mount my legal defence and I need your support - please contribute what you can and share this page on Twitter and Facebook.
What is the case?
I want to fight the Commission’s verdict for two reasons. One, I think their judgment against me is wrong in both fact and law. Two, I think I need to highlight the Commission’s poor conduct to ensure that our public bodies act in a proper way - and don’t abuse their position.
That's why I'm launching this legal action to challenge their decision and refute their accusation of criminal misconduct.
Everything I have seen and been through in the last two years has convinced me that no amount of evidence, no amount of facts will dissuade the Commission from finding me and other Leave campaigners guilty.
Firstly, the Electoral Commission’s judgement is simply wrong and based on inaccurate assertions and a misunderstanding of the law. As an example, they clearly have the wrong understanding of the basic law on how unincorporated associations are set up and work.
An unincorporated association is an organisation set up by two or more people with a common purpose; there is no requirement for a written agreement. Yet the Commission refuse to accept that BeLeave was an unincorporated association prior to May 2016, despite accepted evidence that online content was being produced by BeLeave, funding was being secured and a group of us were all working towards the same aims.
In other words, their judgement is based on a deeply flawed reading of the law.
There is no evidence because I am completely innocent - but they don’t care.
My lawyers agree with this and want to fight the case. They also want to challenge the way I was misled when I applied for BeLeave to be registered for the referendum, and the untrue suggestion that it was just Vote Leave’s plaything. BeLeave’s campaign was original and focussed on young people who are not actively represented in UK politics.
It is very worrying that a Government body is making such fundamental errors in such a high profile case. I need your help to make sure that these errors are exposed, and to cast light on a serious failing by a public body. I believe that the facts - if brought to the attention of a judge - will exonerate me, not brand me as a criminal.
I am not a rich person. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to pay the maximum fine.
But this isn't just about me
Most importantly, I don’t want to let the Commission get away with this.
I believe the Commission’s conduct has been appalling. We depend on organisations like the Commission to safeguard our democracy. How long before they start going after parties their senior figures dislike? How long until candidates they have a grudge against find themselves unfairly penalised?
They have reversed their previous decisions with no justifiable grounds. They have breached an undertaking to my solicitor. They have based their judgment on information that they have refused to disclose to me, so I cannot see the evidence that renders me ‘guilty’. They have also taken evidence from a witness (whose truthfulness and reliability has been constantly challenged) in private, not allowing me the chance to test his assertions made against me.
On top of all this, the Commission has also accepted that even on their case there are substantial matters in mitigation but they have ignored them when deciding their sanction and fined me the maximum possible.
Public bodies shouldn’t act like this. I want to push back against this sort of conduct as a matter of principle - no judicial body or quasi-judicial body should conduct itself like this.
According to expert legal analysis, the Commission are wrong in law, wrong in fact and have been wholly unreasonable. I am very confident that the Appeal Court will overturn their decision - and in doing so will force the Commission to reconsider the way it conducts itself. But I need your help to do it.
Please help me see off these unfair accusations, and highlight the Commission’s failings.
Be a promoter
Your share on Facebook could raise £26 for the caseI'll share on Facebook
Jan. 7, 2019
(Extremely) Limited disclosure at last!
It has taken the Electoral Commission, the so-called guardians of our democracy, 12 months to provide me with a transcript of an interview I did with them in January 2018, a transcript that I was assured by their Head of Regulation would be given to me shortly after the interview.
Why? Well, the Electoral Commission argue that this 12 month old transcript has only been "recently finalised", it's important to bear in mind that this is evidence that the so-called guardians of our democracy say they rely upon in their case against me.
Twelve months to type up an hour long interview? From a Commission that would give me weeks to reply to complex legal questions and ask me to search through years of my life to satisfy their three investigations into my campaigning for Brexit. Without any legal support or cash to support myself.
Three investigations and no disclosure of key pieces of evidence that the Electoral Commission say they rely upon in their case against me. They say I have committed an offence. Yet refuse to disclose this supposedly damning dossier of evidence that supposedly proves my guilt.
We have to ask ourselves, Leave or Remain, how this can happen in a country like ours? A country that passionately advocates independent courts and a belief that everyone accused of a criminal offence should have minimum rights, like a full and fair understanding of, and in detail, the nature and cause of the accusation against him.
I want to thank all of you who have donated to my CrowdJustice campaign so far, I couldn't have even got to this point without your encouragement and support. Anything you can give will help me in my, what I hope you can see as an admirable and justified, quest to right a significant wrong. Thank you.
Nov. 4, 2018
⚖️ Government defends Electoral Commission + case to be heard next summer!
You can watch a video update from my day in court on Friday on Twitter or Facebook.
First up, in court on Friday the Judge decided that my case against the Electoral Commission, funded by all of you (thank you once again), would be heard in summer next year.
The Judge also ruled that the Electoral Commission must respond to the Grounds of Appeal and Skeleton Arguments, that they've so far refused to do, clearly, a Commission that has just lost its head and members of its board due to accusations of bias and mismanagement has more pressing things to deal with.
I left the court angry and dismayed by the fact that the Electoral Commission will have the top QCs and solicitor firms in the land thanks to its support from the Government Legal Department, which means it now has a blank cheque, underwritten by the public purse.
The High Court recently ruled that the Electoral Commission gave Vote Leave incorrect advice, that Vote Leave acted upon when it chose to donate to my campaign, BeLeave, so how can it be right that the taxpayer now has to put forward hundreds of thousands of pounds on cleaning up the Electoral Commission's mess?
This, of course, comes at a time when the police force received absolutely diddly squat from the Chancellor out of the Budget. What does it say about British justice when hundreds of thousands of pounds in hard-earned taxpayer cash are being funnelled into defending Electoral Commission bias – over our priorities – like, for example, funding for front-line policing?
What does it say about our justice system when hundreds of thousands of pounds are going into defending an incompetent quango full of Remainers and establishment figures, instead of front-line policing at a time when kids are being stabbed to death on our streets and burglaries are going without investigation because of our overstretched police force?
It’s absolutely disgusting.
Every penny that you give to my campaign will go on ensuring that there is a voice heard in the Brexit debate, that the Electoral Commission cannot get away with this bias and that actually it forces a rethink – I’m really not sure how the Government can justify this if I’m honest with you – and I’d like to be the one out there making that case, but I can’t do that without your help.
So, again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.
Oct. 4, 2018
Priti Patel MP offers her support at #CPC18
Firstly, to clarify, I've had a few emails and messages on the Electoral Commission’s defeat in the High Court.
To clear up any confusion: The High Court ruling said Vote Leave received incorrect advice by the Electoral Commission: but the Electoral Commission are STILL trying to bankrupt me, I'm STILL appealing their maximum fine and STILL under police investigation.
So your support is STILL vital! Thank you!
Now, I was delighted to have the support of Priti Patel at the Making a Success of Brexit - The BrexitCentral Conference Rally: against the Remain-backing establishment, the left-wing media and many of our politicians. You can watch a clip here and watch my speech at the same event here.
Thank you again for your support. This is the calm before the storm, but your help and support mean that Brexit-backing activists like myself can weather what they throw our way.
Sept. 18, 2018
Saunders Law: Darren Grimes Appeal – Electoral Commission in Disarray
The Electoral Commission investigated Darren after twice finding that he had not broken the law, but did not disclose key evidence to him, nor allow him an adequate opportunity to challenge evidence on which they relied. In Darren’s appeal, the Court will hear that the Commission did not even understand the law on Unincorporated Associations on which it relied to find Darren guilty.
Click here to read the statement in full.
Sept. 15, 2018
High Court: Electoral Commission 'misinterpreted' expenses
On the BBC’s Politics Live Labour’s emphatically pro-EU Lord Adonis said that the Electoral Commission looked "extremely incompetent” and suggested it should be abolished!
The Remain activist and QC Jolyon Maugham, who brought the case against the Electoral Commission and Vote Leave went as far as to say that “heads should roll" at the Electoral Commission.
In choosing to slap me with their maximum fine, the Commission refuses to accept that BeLeave was an unincorporated association prior to May 2016 and therefore argue that BeLeave could not have incurred spending as a permitted participant, but Paragraph 15 and 19 of the High Court’s judgement clearly disagrees:
- Paragraph 15: “…“Beleave”, an unincorporated association set up by him [Darren Grimes] to campaign for a leave outcome…”
- Paragraph 19: “…as BeLeave was an unincorporated association…”
In other words, this is yet another judgement by the Electoral Commission that is based on a deeply flawed reading of the law.
The Electoral Commission is straightforwardly not fit for purpose. On top of all its previous failings and mounting perceptions of political bias, it now appears to have had so little grasp of the law it was supposed to be enforcing that its advice has led to the hounding and ruining over two years of the lives of myself, my family and other Leave campaigners.
This can’t be right in modern Britain.
The Electoral Commission has demanded that parliament substantially expand its powers. New powers would include: abolition of the current £20,000 cap on fines, which means people like me, who have done nothing wrong other than campaign for the wrong side, would be slapped with even larger sums that they have no means to pay.
For an umpire like the Electoral Commission to perform their function, they must command the confidence of both sides with impartiality and competence. The Electoral Commission does neither. If it is to be fit for the powers it presently wields, nevermind those the Remoaner-stuffed DCMS Committee propose granting it, it needs a swift and serious overhaul.
They now have a chance to rectify their errors. They should do the right thing, but to be honest with you, I won’t hold my breath.
This is exactly why your support is so vital and necessary – once again – I want to take this opportunity to thank you for it.
Sept. 7, 2018
Remain-backing Conservative MP on the coup against Brexit
Tory Remainer Robert H Halfon on why he would now vote to leave the EU: “I was very naive, I had no idea that the British establishment would try and do everything to stop it... it’s a coup against the decision of the people... you see the Electoral Commission hammering Darren Grimes.” Click here to watch the clip.
Aug. 13, 2018
From the bottom of my heart, thank you
Almost 2,000 of you decided to back me and my campaign, in only 20 days I've raised £60,511. My Appeal, funded by all of you, will challenge the Electoral Commission's decision as being wrong in law, wrong in fact, predicated on a selective use of facts, and both disproportionate and completely unreasonable.
Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
July 30, 2018
Saunders Law on behalf of Darren Grimes concerning the DCMS report
DCMS has seen fit to publish a report suggesting our client Darren Grimes is guilty of offences, before his case has been heard by a Court, referring to ‘evidence of Russian state-sponsored attempts to influence elections in the US and the UK through social media, of the efforts of private companies to do the same, and of law-breaking by certain Leave campaign groups in the UK’s EU Referendum in their use of social media.’
July 26, 2018
A statement by James Saunders of Saunders Law
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.
Read the statement in full here: https://www.saunders.co.uk/news/darren-grimes-statement-by-james-saunders.html
July 25, 2018
Your donation will help me fight this in court, not pay the Electoral Commission
I want to be absolutely clear that each donation will go directly to my lawyer, to mount a legal challenge as indicated on my case page, and not to pay the Electoral Commission's proposed fine.
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