Northern Ireland

UUP fined £3,000 over assembly election spending returns

Members of the UUP with then leader Mike Nesbitt, pictured at the party's Assembly Election 2016 manifesto launch
Image caption Members of the UUP, with then leader Mike Nesbitt, pictured at the party's Assembly Election 2016 manifesto launch

The Ulster Unionist Party has been fined £3,000 for submitting an inaccurate election spending return.

It relates to spending on the May 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election. The return failed to include payments to the value of £12,000.

The commission noted that the party has asked its auditors to review its processes following identification of the omissions.

The UUP said it "fully accepts the findings and paid the fine in full".

'Regret'

The party confirmed it will be acting on the resulting recommendation.

A UUP spokesperson said: "The party has fully co-operated with the Electoral Commission at all stages of its investigation and treated it with the utmost seriousness.

"We deeply regret that these incidents occurred in the first place and undertook a major internal audit resulting in comprehensive specific actions to prevent a recurrence in future."

In a second case, the commission also fined Mr Henry Meakin, a registered campaigner in the EU referendum, £1,500 for failing to submit his spending return on time.

It is an offence not to deliver a spending return by the due date. Mr Meakin has until 20 July to pay the fine.

The information has been published as part of the commission's regular monthly investigations update

Bob Posner, Director of Political Finance and Regulation & Legal Counsel for the Electoral Commission said:"The Electoral Commission is pleased that the UUP is reviewing its procedures and hopes that this will ensure that a mistake of this nature is not repeated.

It is important that the spending of political parties and campaigners at elections and referendums is fully transparent and the rules are correctly followed."

In June, the Democratic Unionist Party was fined £4,000 by the Electoral Commission for an inaccurate spending return.

The return included payments of £49,200 which should not have been attributed to party spend, but as individual candidate expenditure.

More on this story