Greenpeace Ltd and Friends of the Earth Limited have been fined by the Electoral Commission for failing to comply with campaigning rules at the 2015 UK Parliamentary General Election.
At the general election, non-party campaigners were required to register with the Electoral Commission if they spent more than either £20,000 campaigning in England or £10,000 campaigning in Wales. Neither organisation registered, although the Commission’s investigations identified over £100,000 in spending on campaigning activity conducted during the regulated period.
Separately, the Electoral Commission has also fined the Democratic Unionist Party £1000 for failing to notify the Commission of a change of registered Leader of the party by the required date.
Greenpeace Ltd and Friends of the Earth Limited investigation
Greenpeace Ltd has been fined a total of £30,000. The Commission concluded that Greenpeace Ltd incurred at least £99,000 of spending in England and £12,000 of spending in Wales on a “Coastal Champions” boat tour and on an anti-fracking poster campaign which was undertaken jointly with Friends of the Earth Ltd. The spending on these campaign activities was incurred during the regulated period for the 2015 UK Parliamentary general election.
The Commission also found that Friends of the Earth Ltd incurred at least £24,000 on spending in England. The spending was incurred on the joint activity with Greenpeace Ltd and separately on a “manifesto scorecard” published on its website. Friends of the Earth Ltd was fined £1000 and has paid the fine.
The Commission concluded that overall, these activities promoted the candidates or parties who demonstrated their support for particular campaign messages and were therefore regulated activities under the legislation.
Bob Posner, Director of Party Finance and Regulation & Legal Counsel for the Electoral Commission said:
“Non-party campaigners are vital to a healthy democracy and we encourage their active participation during campaign periods; however, where a significant amount of money is being spent on campaigning it is right that voters can see who is spending that money and what they are campaigning for. The Commission supports all campaigners by producing a range of materials to help ensure compliance with the law.”