Arron Banks' Brexit campaign group warned of fines for data misuse

Image    Almost 300,000 emails were sent to the insurance company's customers

Image Almost 300,000 emails were sent to the insurance company's customers

The United Kingdom's data watchdog has announced it would slap a fine on Banks's insurance company and the campaign that played a decisive role in the 2016 European Union membership referendum outcome in Britain.

An investigation by the UK's Information Commissioner found that more than a million emails sent to Leave.EU subscribers, who had not consented to receive marketing information, contained promotional material for Eldon Insurance, an insurance broker owned by Banks.

The United Kingdom's data watchdog said on Tuesday it was fining Brexit campaigner Arron Banks's insurance company and the Leave.EU campaign for serious breaches of electronic marketing regulations.

"We are investigating allegations that Eldon Insurance Services Limited shared customer data obtained for insurance purposes with Leave.EU", it said.

Leave.EU was also fined 15,000 pounds for a separate breach in which nearly 300,000 emails were sent to Eldon customers with a newsletter for the Brexit campaign group.

The Electoral Commission announced last week there were reasonable grounds to suspect that Mr Banks was not the true source of £8m in loans made to the Better for the Country organisation, which ran his group Leave.EU. He added: 'Gosh we communicated with our supporters and offered them a 10 per cent Brexit discount after the vote!

But it did not conclude that data harvesting techniques had been a decisive factor in the Brexit vote, stating that "it is impossible for us to say whether the data techniques used by either side in the UK EU referendum campaign impacted on the result".

Caption: FILE PHOTO: Gerry Gunster (L), a Washington-based strategist hired by the Leave.EU campaign, speaks as he sits with Arron Banks, a British businessman, during a Leave.EU news conference in central London, Britain November 18, 2015.

Since then, Banks has faced questions about his tactics and finances in the referendum.

"We have evidence to show that customers' personal data, in the form of email addresses, held by Eldon was accessed by staff working for Leave.EU and was used to unlawfully send political marketing messages".

It follows an investigation into the misuse of personal data by political campaigns.

The fines "could be significantly higher under data protection law if we find misdeeds", she told the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee.