After Byline Times’ exclusive investigation into Nigel Farage’s claims of unprecedented crowd funding and donations to his new party, we call for an urgent and thorough investigation from the Electoral Commission

On 12 April, the day of the launch of his new Brexit Party, leader Nigel Farage revealed the party had received over £750,000 in donations under £500 before it had even launched. Nine days, later he claimed nearly 16,000 people had signed up to become £25 registered supporters on the day of the launch, and another 60,000 in the following period.

That’s an additional £1.9 million in political funding and £2.7m in just two weeks.

This week Turlough Conway reported on the major security lapses on all these PayPal functions, leaving them open to multiple contributions from single individuals, and the possible fragmentation of impermissible donations from overseas companies or individuals that would not be registered because they did not pass the £500 threshold.

The PayPal account was moved to the US in March. The lack of verification also left the system vulnerable to automated payments and the danger of ‘micro-laundering’.

New research has revealed that a staggering 40% of the Brexit Party site’s outgoing traffic in April was to the PayPal link. With 50% of all the Brexit Party site’s incoming traffic coming from PayPal as well, this is an unprecedented conversion rate. A good conversion rate on website traffic is normally 5%.

Why an Official Inquiry is Needed

Byline Times cannot explain this extremely unusual volume of donations and the Brexit Party’s response has been to accuse us of bias and wanting to overturn the will of the people. Nothing could be further from the truth. We want to make sure that the will of the people is properly represented within electoral law, and we would be asking the same questions of political funding for any political party if it showed this exceptional pattern of behaviour.

As a result, we have asked the Electoral Commission what they are doing to ensure that donations received by the Brexit Party’s website are from a permissible source.

“The Brexit Party, like all registered political parties, has to comply with laws that require any donation it accepts of over £500 to be from a permissible source,” a spokesperson for Electoral Commission replied: “It is also subject to rules for reporting donations, loans, campaign spending and end of year accounts.”

“These rules are in place to ensure fairness and transparency of all political party finance,” the spokesperson told Byline Times. “As part of our active oversight and regulation of these rules, we talk regularly to parties, including the Brexit Party, about ensuring they have robust systems in place so that they comply with the law. If we see evidence to suggest the rules have been broken, we will consider it in line with our Enforcement Policy.”

We consider there is already evidence that these systems are not robust and do not comply with the law. And for that reason we are calling on the Electoral Commission to mount an investigation.

This is no a question of Remain or Leave, right or left, but securing democracy and all future elections. Byline Times will continue its ‘Democracy in Danger’ series until we are convinced the public is fully protected.


Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

New to Byline Times? Find out more about us


A new type of newspaper – independent, fearless, outside the system. Fund a better media.

Don’t miss a story…

Our leading investigations include: empire & the culture warBrexit, crony contractsRussian interferencethe Coronavirus pandemicdemocracy in danger, and the crisis in British journalism. We also introduce new voices of colour in Our Lives Matter.

More stories filed under Democracy in Danger

More stories filed under Argument

Exposing the Conservative Hedge Fund Scandal: Better Late than Never – Or Too Little Too Late?

, 3 October 2022
As Kwasi Kwarteng faces questions over his attendance at a cocktail party with financiers, Byline Times’ Editor Hardeep Matharu asks why this newspaper’s warnings from three years ago about the influence of hedge fund donors in politics were ignored

How Will Labour Navigate the Crisis-Hit Britain it Could Inherit?

, 30 September 2022
Opinion polls are looking good for Labour – but in victory Keir Starmer would inherit the greatest challenges ever faced by an incoming prime minister, writes Gareth Roberts

‘Great British Democracy’: Who Voted for This?

, 30 September 2022
The UK's political system currently resembles an unelected autocracy rather than a truly representative democracy, writes former diplomat Alexandra Hall Hall

More from the Byline Family