Midlands forces hand over Tory election expense files

by Abel Hampton March 17, 2017, 0:56
Midlands forces hand over Tory election expense files

Investigations into the party's "battle bus campaign" during the last general election have looked at whether strict spending limits in target seats were exceeded.

Lancashire Police has since dropped the investigation.

Seventeen police forces across the country are looking into whether some MPs' agents should have filed costs associated with battle bus visits to their constituencies in their local expenses.

Claims about the Conservatives' general election spending - as well as that at three parliamentary by-elections - were raised by The Daily Mirror and Channel 4 News.

"They have imposed a fine on the Conservative Party and the Conservative Party will be meeting that fine, will be paying that fine".

A spokesman said Labour and the Lib Dems had also been fined in the past and "there needs to be a review of how the Electoral Commission's processes and requirements could be clarified or improved".

Other MPs have directed their anger at Conservative Campaign Headquarters complaining that they had been cut adrift by the party's high command even though the complaints relate to the busing of activists to campaign in key marginal seats which was organised centrally.

"I honestly believe not one MP is guilty of anything".

Tory MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan said she hoped the "very difficult" situation would be resolved "very quickly". It seems neither party can be trusted to stay honest under pressure.

It is understood the Tory was interviewed under caution for six hours following allegations of overspending in the 2015 election campaign which saw him come out on top after a bitter fight with Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

Some cases have been investigated and concluded with no further action.

The CPS yesterday confirmed that it had received files of evidence from Avon & Somerset, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon & Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Greater Manchester, Lincolnshire, the Metropolitan Police, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire police.

The CPS will now decide if any charges should be brought. The files were "all under consideration", a spokesman said. Staffordshire police also said that it had sent a file.

Colchester MP Will Quince announced today he had been investigated and cleared by Essex Police.

However, he said that the inquiry has caused stress to his staff and family and he had suffered "reputational damage" while it was carried out.

On the political advisers, the commission said they had played "key roles" in determining Mr Mackinlay's campaign messages and in drafting campaign material "promoting Mr Mackinlay's electoral success".

In June Kent Police were given a further 12 months to investigate the claims of improper spending.

The senior team were all put up at the Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate, where the Conservative Party racked up a bill of more than £14,000 over the course of the campaign.

Karl McCartney, MP for Lincoln and one of those under investigation, wrote a bombshell email to the party chairman Patrick McLoughlin attacking the party's handling of the controversy.

On Sunday, MEP Mr Farage - who has tried seven times to become an MP - said he would "probably" stand again for Ukip in Thanet if the contest was rerun.

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