Britain First slapped with £44,000 fine for breaching electoral law

Britain First leader Paul Golding with his deputy Jayda Fransen. Credit: PA

Far-right group Britain First has been fined £44,000 by the Electoral Commission for “multiple breaches of the law”.

The electoral watchdog released a statement via Twitter, in which Director of Regulation Louise Edwards stated Britain First’s “inability to meet certain basic requirements led to a disappointing lack of transparency into the party’s finances".

She added: “The party’s failure to comply with a statutory notice is a serious offence and shows a disregard for the law.”

Each breach and penalty was listed in further detail on the Electoral Commission website.

According to the watchdog, the party failed to keep accurate financial records of its transactions in 2016, for which it was fined £11,000.

It also failed to provide quarterly donations reports for all quarters of 2016 and was fined £7,700.

The Electoral Commission announced its decision on Twitter. Credit: PA

The Commission also discovered £200,000 worth of undeclared donations made to Britain First during 2016.

Britain First also did not have its 2016 statement of accounts audited by a qualified auditor, which is legally required if a party’s annual expenses or income are over £250,000. For this, they faced a £5,500 fine.

Their biggest penalty – a £20,000 fine – was for neglecting to provide the Commission for information when requested.

Paul Golding makes a speech during a demonstration by Britain First and English Defence League in London. (2017) Credit: PA

The breaches had occurred in 2016, before Britain First de-registered as a political party in November 2017.

The party is no stranger to controversy. In March 2018, Paul Golding and deputy Jayda Fransen were both jailed for religiously-aggravated harassment,after launching a political campaign attempting to expose Muslim men they believed were involved in a rape trial.

That same month, Facebook banned the Britain First group for repeatedly breaching the social media network’s community standards on hate speech.