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Jeremy Corbyn-backing Momentum faces election spending probe

An INVESTIGATION has been launched by the UK’s democracy watchdog into whether the Jeremy Corbyn-backing Momentum movement breached spending rules at this year’s general election.

The Electoral Commission said its probe would look into whether Momentum’s spending breached the limits for non-party campaigners in national elections.

And it will also consider whether returns submitted by the group, founded in 2015 as a grassroots movement to support Mr Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, accurately recorded donations and payments relating to the 2017 campaign.

The Commission’s director of political finance and regulation and legal counsel, Bob Posner, said: ‘Momentum are a high-profile active campaigning body. Questions over their compliance with the campaign finance rules at June’s general election risks causing harm to voters’ confidence in elections.’

Electoral law imposes strict spending limits on non-party campaigners seeking to influence people to vote for one particular political party or any of its candidates.

Spending is limited to £31,980 in England, £3,540 in Scotland, £2,400 in Wales and £1,080 in Northern Ireland for the regulated period, which in this year’s case stretched for 12 months before the June 8 ballot.

Founded by Jon Lansman as a means of bolstering Mr Corbyn’s leadership at a time when he was seen as being under threat from centrist MPs and activists, Momentum has become increasingly influential within the Labour Party.

It boasts a network of more than 23,000 members, 150 local groups and 200,000 supporters, many of whom took part in campaigning around the 2017 election.

A Momentum spokesman said much of the Electoral Commission investigation refers to a series of administrative errors which could be easily rectified.