Electoral Commission rejects claim Brexit group supporters 'crashed its servers'

The Electoral Commission has rubbished the claim from Leave.EU that the regulator's servers crashed under the weight of emails received from supporters of the group campaigning for a British exit from the EU.

The Brexit campaign group has decided to support fellow leave campaigners Grassroots Out (GO) for designation as the official exit campaign – applications for designation opened earlier this month and close on 31 March, before the regulated campaigning period begins on 15 April.

Leave.EU has previously criticised rival Brexit group Vote Leave publicly on various occasions, and has upped its PR in recent weeks as it seeks to portray itself as the more legitimate candidate.

A press release sent by Leave.EU yesterday (Monday) evening quoted co-founder Arron Banks as saying: "From the very beginning, Leave.EU and GO set out to create a genuine people’s campaign, driven by the public rather than the establishment.

"The enormous strength of the mass movement we have built was clearly demonstrated today, when 7,500 of our supporters wrote to the Electoral Commission endorsing our bid for designation in the space of just two-and-a-half hours, a level of support so high that their servers couldn't cope."

Asked about this claim, a press officer for the Electoral Commission told PRWeek: "That's not correct, our systems are fine."

The release also said Banks would write to the commission to ask why it would, in his words, "disregard any direct representations it receives from ordinary members of the public".

An Electoral Commission spokesman said the decision of designation would be made on the strength of campaigns' applications, and that applications can include evidence of that campaign's supporter base.

Also yesterday, Leave.EU said it would distribute a letter from Peter Hargreaves, the co-founder of financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown, to 23 million households, and said in another press statement: "It's fantastic to be able to help an entrepreneur as successful and well respected as Peter Hargreaves put the case for Brexit to everyone in the United Kingdom. Given that we are now the only campaign to have spoken to the whole country, this guarantees us designation."

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