The Sun newspaper was forced to register as a leave campaign group after the tabloid splashed out £96k on a ‘BeLEAVE in Britain’ pull-out poster exhorting readers to use their vote to exit the European Union just a week before the referendum.
The unprecedented step was taken by publisher News Group Newspapers to comply with rules laid down by the Electoral Commission which regulates campaign spending. The Sun was one of the most pro-Brexit papers editorially but as the poster was designed for display it fell under the commission’s purview.
At a stroke this catapulted the paper into one of the largest single spenders amongst 48 groups registered as seeking to influence the referendum campaign according to the official body, with all but two spending less than £250k – the main Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe bodies.
An NGN spokesperson said: “As part of its campaign for Brexit the Sun ran a pullout poster. In accordance with Electoral Commission guidelines it registered as a participant and has declared the cost.”
The Electoral Commission only published details of campaign spending on Tuesday.