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Fine for man who paid for newspaper ad to counter immigration 'scare stories'

A frustrated man who paid for a newspaper advert to try to counter "scare stories" about immigration during the EU referendum has been hit with a £4,000 fine by the elections watchdog.

Laurence Taylor took out a full page ad in Metro newspaper on the eve of the June 23 referendum, displaying a pie chart comparing net annual immigration to the size of the UK population as a whole under the message: "Why can't we cope with a 0.5% a year rise in population? Too many migrants or failure of government?"

He said at the time he had paid for the ad out of his own pocket because he was "fed up with the rubbish being talked about immigration" by campaigners on both sides, including David Cameron, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson.

The ad caused a stir at the time on social media, but Mr Taylor has now been penalised by the Electoral Commission because it failed to include the required identification details - known as an "imprint".

The £4,000 fine is the highest imposed by the Commission in relation to an imprint offence. The watchdog acknowledged that Mr Taylor was not an experienced political campaigner, but said it was his responsibility to ensure that he adhered to the rules.

The Commission's legal counsel Bob Posner said: "It is important that the funding and spending of campaigners at referendums and elections is fully transparent and that the rules behind this are followed. Voters must have confidence that there will be consequences if these rules are broken and we produce extensive guidance and work with campaigners to help them, but as our fine to Mr Taylor shows, we will also take action when needed."

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