Michael Gove denies knowledge of Vote Leave ‘spending breach’

The Environment Secretary told Sky News he was unaware of a £625,000 donation made by Vote Leave to a youth Brexit group called BeLeave until after the 2016 referendum had concluded, despite being the co-convener of the campaign committee tasked with ensuring all pro-Leave groups were working together effectively.

Vote Leave has denied any wrongdoing over the payment, which whistleblower Shahmir Sanni claimed over the weekend had represented a breach of spending limits.

Mr Gove, who was a key figure in the Brexit campaign, said the case had already been investigated twice by the Electoral Commission and no wrongdoing had been uncovered.

He explained: “I wasn’t involved in the day to day running of the campaign, I was out there making the case for leaving the EU rather than managing the hidden wiring of the campaign.

“But I think this case has been investigated twice by the Electoral Commission since it occurred and I think on both those occasions the Electoral Commission said it’s quite right that one campaign can donate to another organisation, and indeed my understanding is that the Remain campaign did pretty much the same thing.”

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have called for the police to investigate claims by Mr Sanni that Vote Leave “cheated” in order to secure victory in the referendum.

But Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, another prominent figure in the campaign, has branded the accusation as “utterly ludicrous”.

Cabinet colleagues Andrea Leadsom and David Davis have been less forthright, stressing it is up to the Electoral Commission to investigate the claims.

An Electoral Commission spokeswoman has said: “The commission has a number of investigations open in relation to campaigners at the EU referendum; it does not comment on live investigations.”

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