Vote Leave boss gets Cricked and insists: ‘It completely wasn’t a fiddle.’
Watch: Matthew Elliott got ambushed by Michael Crick and made a basic PR mistake
In his must-read book detailing the battle over Brexit, Tim Shipman tells how former Vote Leave chief executive Matthew Elliott played a blinder for the Leave campaign - most notably by bringing in Dominic Cummings.
He writes: “Elliott, who deserves credit for establishing the organisation, recognised that he needed a ‘warrior like Dominic Cummings to run the war room.”
Meanwhile, Cummings’ former lieutenant Paul Stephenson tells the author: “Fundamentally, why did we win it? Matthew created an organisation that allowed things to flourish. But it was down to Dom stetting the strategy…”
But did Elliott also recruit another even more controversial figure to the cause?
The official Brexit campaign is expected to be found guilty of four charges of breaking electoral law. A key allegation centres around a 23-year-old fashion student called Darren Grimes who was given £625,000 by Vote Leave for his youth-focused out campaign BeLeave. The donation wasthen paid directly to data marketing company Aggregate IQ.
It is alleged that this was done to keep Vote Leave under the EC £7m spending limit, and the youth group was simply a proxy of Vote Leave itself.
“It was a bit of a fiddle wasn’t it… Are you really expecting us to believe that Darren Grimes made the decision independently to spend that money on AIQ,” asked Channel 4 News’ Michael Crick when he tracked down Elliott.
To his credit, Elliott did not try to run away like most victims of a Crick ambush. Instead he stopped in his tracks and strongly denied suggestions that Grimes worked out of the same office as Vote Leave.
But he also stated: “It completely wasn’t a fiddle.”
Some should tell the spin supremo that you should never repeat the allegation made to you…