The Lib Dems have said the undeclared £184,676 was a result of “human error and failure of process”.
Bob Posner, the director of political finance at the Electoral Commission, said there were “systemic failures in ensuring that the rules were being followed”.
“The party and its officers cooperated fully throughout the
investigation. However, this is an experienced party that failed to
meet the basic requirements of the law, and cases like this undermine voters’ confidence in our political finance system. This is why we have applied the highest financial penalty available to us.
“This also highlights why we have been calling on the UK government to make higher sanctioning powers available to us. With millions of pounds being spent by large parties looking to form national governments, a fine of £20,000 is no longer a strong enough deterrent to ensure the rules are properly followed.”
Earlier this year, the Labor party was also hit with the maximum fine after failing to declare all of its expenses during the general election. This included the “Ed Stone”, the eight-foot tablet that was carved with the ex- leader’s main pledged.
Spending by the Conservative party at the general election remains under scrutiny after an investigation by Channel 4 alleged some local spending was allocated to the national account to avoid tight limits for each constituency.
Following the Lib-Dem’s fine, the commission continues its call to increase the maximum fine. The UK watchdog has said the £20,000 is not enough to deter larger political parties spend millions of unnecessary pounds.
The commission has notified the Metropolitan Police that the campaigns officer, Tim Gordon, may have committed a criminal offence if he “knowingly or recklessly signed a false declaration”.