The leader of the Vote Leave campaign has repaid a £50,000 charitable grant after he was found to have used the money to produce a highly political 1,000-page anti-EU dossier.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the official pro-Brexit campaign in last June’s referendum, used a grant from a charity he had set up to fund a high-profile campaign report called Change or Go – How Britain Would Gain Influence and Prosper Outside an Unreformed EU.
The repayment follows concerns raised with the Charity Commission that the Politics and Economics Research Trust (PERT), set up by Elliott in 2006, should not be supporting groups to undertake research that takes a political position on a contested topic like EU membership.
PERT is constituted as an educational charity and it benefits from tax relief on donations. Over the past five years it has given most of its grants – more than £2m – to anti-EU campaign groups run by Elliott including Business for Britain, which published Change or Go, and the TaxPayers’ Alliance. Elliot stepped down as secretary of PERT in 2010.
Its trustees have included several leading Eurosceptics including the retail millionaire and Labour donor John Mills, the Conservative party donor Patrick Barbour and the former Ukip leader Lord Pearson. Its financial backers are not made public.
In a report into the case published on Thursday the Charity Commission said it had uncovered matters of “regulatory concern” at PERT. It said: “Charities with…