Leave.EU and an insurance company owned by its founder Arron Banks have been fined £120,000 over data law breaches. It represents a reduction in the £135,000 total previously announced by the Information Commissioner's office. The pro-Brexit Leave.EU group's £60,000 fine was reduced to £45,000 after "considering the company's representations", the ICO said. Leave.EU said it was a "politically motivated attack against our involvement in Brexit". A spokesman said it was "disappointed but not surprised" and would be appealing against the fine in court.
The information commissioner has launched an audit into Leave.EU and the insurance company owned by the campaign's key financial backer, Arron Banks, after fining the organisations a total of £120,000 for data protection violations during the EU referendum campaign. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) announced in November that it intended to fine the two companies, which it determined were closely linked, with "ineffective" systems for segregating the data of insurance customers from that of political subscribers. Leave.EU was fined £15,000 for using Eldon Insurance customers' details unlawfully to send almost 300,000 political marketing messages, and a further £45,000 for its part in sending an Eldon marketing campaign to political subscribers. Eldon was fined £60,000 for the latter violation. The fine for Leave.EU's marketing campaign was £15,000 less than the ICO had initially proposed, after the regulator took account of representations made by the company.
A British public interest group has filed a lawsuit in a Mississippi court against two companies controlled by Arron Banks, the pro-Brexit donor, following allegations that the firms may have violated UK data protection rules in an attempt to sway the 2016 vote to leave the EU. Fair Vote Project, a British activist group that is campaigning for changes to UK election rules, has launched the legal action against Eldon Insurance and a Bristol-based software development group, Big Data Dolphins. Fair Vote has asked a judge to permanently bar the firms from destroying any data that they might be holding in Mississippi. At the heart of the complaint is an allegation that the companies may have used data that had been mined in the UK and combined it with information that had been collected from Eldon Insurance, which sells car insurance in the UK. The suit further alleges that the data may have been brought to the University of Mississippi, where the companies sought to create their own version of Cambridge Analytica, the controversial firm that used data mined from social media networks to try to sway voters' behaviour.
A report of a "secret" Brexit plan and the latest on Arron Banks are among the topics leading Sunday's newspaper front pages. The Sunday Times thinks the Prime Minister has secured a breakthrough with the EU and that preparations for a final Brexit deal are far more advanced than previously thought. It says it has pieced this together by speaking to ministers, advisers, civil servants and EU officials. Under the plans, the whole of the UK would remain within a customs union, avoiding the need for physical checks along the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. The EU is also said to have offered a significant concession, by accepting that checks on goods can take place in factories and shops rather than at the Irish border.
Ex-UKIP donor Arron Banks paid for 20 of his employees to ferry party voters to the polls at the Rochester 2014 by-election, BBC Newsnight understands. The expenditure was not registered by UKIP, which could breach electoral law. UKIP's victory in Rochester ensured the party received more coverage by the BBC and other broadcasters the following year, at the 2015 general election. Mr Banks denies any wrongdoing and said all expenditure at the by-election was expensed in full and notified to UKIP. Mr Banks is the bad boy of Brexit, a car insurance mogul and a failed sexual potency pill entrepreneur - but far from hiding his naughtiness, he flaunts it.