Watchdog urges tighter rules for a second EU referendum

People at a ‘Rally for Europe’ in Edinburgh on Saturday

No EU referendum should take place until the laws around the use of social media and campaign funding have been significantly tightened, Britain’s elections watchdog has warned.

Bob Posner, interim chief executive of the Electoral Commission, said that six-figure fines were needed to deter campaigners from breaching election laws – far higher than the penalties currently in place.

“We would want to extend investigative powers. We would want some serious sanctions, because that gives people confidence,” Posner told The House magazine.

“We would want much speedier reporting after the event of all the financial spending. And we’d also want more transparency during the event. We want the ability for us to actually go into campaigns and get hold of their financial information during the event.”

His warning comes after complaints over the way data was used by Brexit campaigners during the 2016 referendum. Arron Banks, the biggest Brexit donor, was referred to the National Crime Agency last year over claims that “a number of criminal…

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