On the referendum #24C: Whistleblowers and C4/Observer accusations — they promised Watergate and delivered Zoolander

Update: More unethical behaviour from @Jolyonmaugham

I wrote yesterday about a formal complaint to the Bar Standards Board regarding this ‘QC’ (scroll down).

Today he tweets:

Screenshot 2018-03-28 12.17.09

Yet again this charlatan spreads bullshit on the internet about serious issues that are the subject of legal investigations without doing the most basic fact checking. If he had, he would have seen immediately that Michael Gove was never on the Board of Vote Leave. That’s a ‘fact’ Jolyon. (Further neither Gove nor Boris had anything to do with such matters as legal compliance.) The decision re a donation to BeLeave was taken by the Vote Leave Finance Committee (a subset of the Board) after we suddenly got the written confirmation from the EC that we could donate to BeLeave — another fact, supported by documents presented in the High Court, which @Jolyon spread false memes about. Full documentation exists for the EC to consider. Journalists should treat him not as a serious QC but as another spin doctor for a political campaign since that’s how he behaves on social media.

UPDATE 27/3. DEATH TO SPIES!

This tweet from Carole sums up how serious this story really is in so far as it relates to Vote Leave: of course, SMERSH (Russian abbreviation for ‘death to spies’)! The EC/ICO inquiries will look at the facts, the completely different stories that the whistleblowers tell each time they appear (their credibility is such that I bet their lawyers won’t let them appear as witnesses), the evidence, and the law. By the time the inquiries are over, the Observer will look really silly for making a hero out of a fantasist-charlatan, we’ll already have left the EU, and Zoolander will need a new look… The one thing Carole has provided good evidence for is something Vote Leave already knew in 2015: it would be lunacy for Vote Leave to ally with Arron Banks and Cambridge Analytica!

Screenshot 2018-03-27 11.15.52

Screenshot 2018-03-27 11.22.35

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UPDATE 26/3. It’s been suggested to me that I should put in a formal complaint about the lawyer @JolyonMaugham to the Bar Standards Board. His twitter feed alone is a disgrace to the bar. He has been guilty of at least reckless falsehood. Strikes me this would be a good public service so feel free to send evidence about him to my public email and I’ll send in a formal document with help from some barristers. Public debate is badly undermined when QCs spread bullshit on the internet.

And on this subject, it was noticeable that in the hearing over a judicial review on the Electoral Commission recently all three teams were criticised by the Court: Jolyon’s, the EC’s, and VL’s. The JR won’t effect Brexit at all but it will affect future conduct in elections and the debate about reform. As I wrote in my long piece on the referendum a year ago the rules about our elections are a joke and regulators are in an impossible position (e.g the latest flap over what counts as ‘coordination’). It would be in the public interest if all three teams upgrade their lawyers for the JR in the summer so these arguments are properly made and contribute to serious reform of the whole system. (I have zero role with VL and have not been a director since early 2016 so these decisions have nothing to do with me.) 

NB. I respect @JolyonMaugham’s right to free speech and to express his political views on Twitter. Please only send examples of things that can genuinely and reasonably be seen as misconduct for a barrister such as misleading people or deliberately mistating the law. I have no interest in his politics, just his integrity and professionalism. There will be a very strict test applied by my team about what we say. Just the facts please…

[Added.] In particular, I am unaware of any document presenting clear and full transparency concerning the finances of his Good Law Project and how much he collects for his own ‘fees’. Do those who donate think he is working for free? Is he? If not how much does he take? Does he make it public? If not why not? Is his behaviour concerning raising and spending this money ethical?

A team will also be putting in formal complaints to the EC and ICO about the illegal conduct of the Remain campaign, Osborne, Blair, Cameron, Mandelson, Clegg, Craig Dre et al. Don’t start deleting emails guys, cos that would be illegal, but start saving for lawyers. Meanwhile, we will also be starting our own campaign for a second referendum — on the ECHR…


UPDATE 24/3: My response to Channel4/Observer/NYT ‘world exclusive’: They promised Watergate and delivered a dodgy Zoolander. Vote Leave’s donations were legal, the Electoral Commission gave us written permission, the whistleblowers are provably lying, we leave in a year and this lame gossip won’t even be a historical footnote.


Here is the Channel 4 / Observer ‘exclusive’ about to air this evening, leaked to me by an ‘appalled’ journalist in the C4 newsroom…

Their whistleblowers are already discredited as liars and charlatans. Wylie tried to sell me the same crap he accuses Cambridge Analytica of doing — and I told him to get lost (in writing). Shahmir told a completely different story to a previous investigation, which evidence will be with the Electoral Commission.

Accusations from the dishonest @Jolyon that Vote Leave did not have permission from the EC to give donations to other campaigns were disproved in open court just days ago when the documents were revealed, and @Jolyon was criticised by the court for his conduct.

C4 and Observer think this will help cancel the referendum.

They are deluded.

SW1 will have one of its frequent hysterical waves, soon replaced by the next such wave.

We’re leaving the EU next March.

Then we’ll be coming for the ECHR referendum and we’ll win that by more than 52-48…

For the details of why their accusations should not be believed, SEE HERE.

There won’t be a Scooby Doo ending to this story where my mask is pulled off and it turns out Arron and I were working with Cambridge Analytica all along, and the cops say ‘they’d have got away with leaving the EU if it weren’t for that journalist Carole’.

(We wish all whistleblowers well.)

CHANNEL 4 news release

BREXIT CAMPAIGN WAS ‘TOTALLY ILLEGAL’, CLAIMS WHISTLE-BLOWER

‘Data, Democracy and Dirty Tricks’ – Part 4 

Please credit words and pictures to Channel 4 News

Tonight, the whistle-blower who was “outed” as gay by the PM’s political secretary in a row over cheating claims in the Brexit campaign, tells Channel 4 News that “people have been lied to” and that the EU Referendum “wasn’t legitimate.”

In an interview with Channel 4 News to be broadcast tonight (Saturday at 6.30pm GMT), Shahmir Sanni tells Michael Crick: “I know that, that Vote Leave cheated… I know that, that people have been lied to and that the Referendum wasn’t legitimate.

“Leaving the European Union, I agree with. But I don’t agree with losing what it means to be British in that process; losing what it means to follow the rules; losing what it means to be quite literally a functioning democracy.”

Sanni believes Theresa May’s political secretary Stephen Parkinson “outed” him yesterday after he was set to reveal claims of cheating by Brexiteers. Parkinson says the two had been in a relationship for 18-months, which he then implies may explains Sanni’s motive for speaking out.

Channel 4 News can also reveal that Sanni went to the Electoral Commission with two other pro-Brexit friends on Thursday, who say they helped the Vote Leave campaign two years ago.

They told the Commission in detail why they think Vote Leave broke the law during the Referendum, and exceeded the legal spending limits.

Earlier last week their lawyers gave the Commission signed statements from the three whistle-blowers. Channel 4 News has seen a duplicate of the 46-page account prepared by two top QCs, and three thick ring-binders of supporting documents.

The cheating row centres around the links between Vote Leave and third-party campaign group Beleave.

Under election laws, Vote Leave was only allowed to spend £7m on its campaign. But there were scores of other separate campaign groups who could each spend up to £700,000, if they registered as permitted participants.

However, spending by each of these groups had to remain truly independent of the main designated campaigns.

Sanni tells Channel 4 News he was initially a Vote Leave outreach volunteer. But it’s claimed Stephen Parkinson then assigned him to another Brexit group called BeLeave, where he worked with the group’s founder, Darren Grimes.

BeLeave was based inside the Vote Leave headquarters and Grimes was photographed holding a Vote Leave poster on the day of the Referendum.

Sanni says that he and Grimes always reported to Stephen Parkinson.

“There was no time where anything BeLeave did didn’t go through Stephen,” Sanni said. “Any sort of article that I posted or an article that I wrote, I would run it through Stephen. I would say ‘is this OK?’.”

“This was after we had become a separate organisation – I sent Stephen a draft of my speech, and said ‘Hey, what do you think?’ I sought advice, as did Darren.”

Together, they claim they worked hand in glove with Parkinson.

In the last ten days of the campaign, Vote Leave donated a total of £625,000 to Grimes, who was registered as a permitted participant. The donations went directly to Canadian data firm Aggregate IQ (AIQ).

Sanni claims that Grimes was not truly independent of Vote Leave and was not in control of how the money was spent.

He claims Grimes and BeLeave were used by Vote Leave to get around limits on how much they could legally spend. If true, they could have overspent by almost ten per cent.

Documents seen by Channel 4 News show multiple links between AIQ and Cambridge Analytica’s parent company SCL.

Speaking about the donation, Sanni said: “When Darren told me that it was almost £700,000, the first thing I asked was ‘OK, so can I get my, you know, some of my travel expenses refunded, reimbursed?’,” he told Channel 4 News. “I didn’t have a job, I had just come out of graduation and I was volunteering.

“So I asked for money and Darren said ‘No I don’t think we can… the only way for them to give it to us is if they give it to AIQ.’ And that’s where at first I was like oh that’s a bit odd…”

Asked whether they could have refused to spend the money on AIQ, Sanni said: “We didn’t ever feel like we had that level of control. That’s what I mean, we never felt like we had control over the or, over the organisation itself…

“We were delegated responsibilities … but in terms of sort of money, we never had a say over that. We never had control over that.”

He claimed: “In effect they used BeLeave to over-spend, and not just by a small amount… Almost two thirds of a million pounds makes all the difference and it wasn’t legal… ”

“They say that it wasn’t coordinated, but it was. And so the idea that… the campaign was legitimate is false.”

Tonight, Stephen Parkinson issued a “personal statement” to Channel 4 News:

“I have seen the statements issued by Shahmir and his lawyers, and am saddened by them. They are factually incorrect and misleading. My statement to Channel 4 News and The Observer was issued in my personal capacity and was solely a response to the serious and untrue allegations made against me by Shahmir, Chris Wylie, and others.

“It would be surprising if Shahmir, Mr Wylie, or those advising them thought I would be able to defend myself against those allegations without revealing my relationship with Shahmir. Sadly, the allegations they have chosen to make are so serious that I have been compelled to do so. I cannot see how our relationship, which was ongoing at the time of the referendum and which is a material fact in the allegations being made, could have remained private once Shahmir decided to publicise his false claims in this way.

“The matters raised in tonight’s Channel 4 News programme are already with the Electoral Commission.

“At the relevant time during the referendum period, the Commission advised Vote Leave that it was permissible to make a donation in the way it proposed to do to BeLeave.

“Twice since the referendum the Commission has investigated this matter, and twice it has found no evidence of wrongdoing. A third investigation into the same issue is currently taking place.

“The Electoral Commission has not contacted me in relation to any of these inquiries, but I will of course be happy to assist in them if they wish me to do so.

“I firmly deny the allegations in the programme. I had no responsibility for digital campaigning or donations on the Vote Leave campaign, and am confident that I stayed within the law and strict spending rules at all times.”

A solicitor for Vote Leave said: “Vote Leave has twice been cleared on this matter by the Electoral Commission. There are a number of new accusations and allegations being made in what you have sent us. While many of them seem irrelevant or trivial, some are serious and potentially damaging to the reputations of those caught up in those allegations. As has been the case throughout, Vote Leave is obligated to review – to the extent it can after this long elapsed period since the referendum – all such allegations, and is doing so. We will as appropriate share any relevant findings with the Electoral Commission, again as we have always done. “

Darren Grimes denies all the allegations.

Lawyers for AggregateIQ said: “AggregateIQ is a digital advertising, web and software development company based in Canada. It is and has always been 100% Canadian owned and operated. AggregateIQ has never entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica. AggregateIQ works in full compliance within all legal and regulatory requirements in all jurisdictions where it operates. It has never knowingly been involved in any illegal activity.

‘All work AggregateIQ does for each client is kept separate. The services carried out by AggregateIQ for Vote Leave were in accordance with the instructions of Vote Leave. The services carried out for BeLeave were in accordance with the instructions of BeLeave. The accounts were kept separate at all times and there was no overlap or merging in any way.’

Note to editors:

For websites, clips are available to be EMBEDDED FROM @CHANNEL4NEWS TWITTER ACCOUNT ONLY – from 6pm.

For broadcasters, can be provided with two clips – with full credit to Channel 4 News.

For clips please contact: ITNP news desk +44 207 430 4668 News@itnproduction.com

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