Wednesday 1 June 2016

Tories lose attempt to block police investigation into Craig Mackinlay's election expenses

The Conservative Party have failed in their attempt to stop Kent Police from getting a further 12 months to investigate allegations of election expense fraud in last year's election in Thanet South.

Ten police forces are investigating allegations of systematic fraud in expenses returns mainly involving the Conservatives but with a couple of Labour and Lib Dem candidates thrown in for good measure. The alleged fraud relates to declaring local campaign expenditure as national expenditure to avoid going over spending limits on paper.

Some of the expenditure alleged to be fraudulent includes claiming that hotel bills for activists bussed in for a local campaign were part of a national campaign, mailshots sent out in David Cameron's name targeting the constituency they were delivered to were national campaign material and transporting activists to support local campaigns was national spending.

The magistrate granting the extension for Thanet South has suggested that the allegations are so serious that Craig Mackinley's victory could be declared void and a by-election called. The Tories threw everything at Thanet South to stop Nigel Farage from becoming an MP and Farage himself said after the election that the Tories had "swindled" it by overspending but that he wouldn't make a complaint because he didn't want to be accused of sour grapes.

Kent Police now have an extra 12 months to investigate the allegations whilst the Tories are left with the bill for the very expensive lawyers they hired to try and stop the extension being granted.