Former head of Electoral Commission resigns from firm linked to 'controversial' Green Party ads

  • Words by ITV News Correspondent Rupert Evelyn

The former Head of the Electoral Commission, Peter Wardle, has resigned from a firm linked to the publication of adverts which were not sanctioned or paid for by the Green Party on Facebook.

Earlier in this election campaign ITV News reported on the adverts, which were being posted by 3rd Party Ltd, a company led by Thomas Borwick who had previously been Chief Technology Officer for the Vote Leave campaign.

Mr Borwick runs a number of campaign consultancy firms including Kanto Elect, which counts Peter Wardle as one of its non-executive directors.

Seventeen months after joining Kanto Elect, Mr. Wardle has ended his association after ITV News approached him over the activities of his fellow company director Thomas Borwick and 3rd Party Ltd.

Wardle ran the Electoral Commission from 2004-2015.

He told ITV News that on joining the board of Kanto Elect he “sought, and received, assurances that the company’s activities would at all times be strictly politically neutral.”

Two of the adverts seen by ITV News paid for by 3rd Party Ltd. Credit: Facebook

He has distanced himself from Borwick’s new company (3rd Party Ltd) and is denying any knowledge or involvement with it.

Peter Wardle had joined forces with one of the key players of the Vote Leave campaign and someone with long-standing Conservative Party leanings.

Borwick was Chief Technology Officer for Vote Leave but is now publishing adverts paid for by anonymous “donors” on Facebook and Instagram, through his new firm 3rd Party Ltd.

It’s not clear what his company is trying to achieve and despite repeated attempts to get answers from him, including on his doorstep, he has so far refused to make any comment.

At the time of writing, 3rd Party Ltd is currently running active adverts on Facebook & Instagram calling on voters to support Iain Duncan Smith, vote against Jo Swinson, questioning Labour’s candidate in Kensington, Save Brexit and vote Green. The company has spent almost £12,000 on these adverts to date.

When 3rd Party Ltd began publishing adverts linked to the Green Party, Chris Williams, head of elections at the Green Party said: "We have not had any communication with 3rd Party Limited. We have no knowledge of the organisation or of its aims."

Asked about Peter Wardle’s resignation from Kanton Elect, a spokesperson for 3rd Party Ltd. told ITV News: "Kanto Elect is 100% politically independent. Peter Wardle served for almost two years and has moved on to other projects. We wish him well in all his future endeavours. 3rd Party Ltd is an unconnected company, registered separately and with entirely different work."