Tory MP Craig Mackinlay cleared of 2015 election spending offences
Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay has been cleared of election spending offences after a lengthy trial.
The South Thanet MP was found not guilty by a jury at Southwark Crown Court of two charges of making false election expenses declarations during the 2015 general election.
The seven-week trial focussed on expenses for hotel rooms and other staffing costs for Tory activists and party workers who came to the constituency to help Mr Mackinlay battle Ukip’s then-leader Nigel Farage.
The prosecution had argued that up to £66,000 in costs should have been allocated to Mr Mackinlay’s local spending, rather than to the national campaign.
Had they been registered locally, Mr Mackinlay would have overspent by more than twice the legal limit.
Responding to the verdict, Mr Mackinlay tweeted '#Notguilty'.
The MP won the seat in 2015 by a majority of almost 3,000.
He went on to win the seat again during the 2017 snap election, one week after the charges against him were made public.
Senior party activist Marion Little, 63, who was also tried alongside Mr Mackinlay, was found guilty of two counts of intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007.
She was cleared of a third count of the same offence.
Ms Little is due to be sentenced later, but the judge said he was not considering an "immediate" custodial sentence as her husband is suffering from a terminal illness.