Police probe into Labour frontbencher Cat Smith's election expenses

Posted On: 
24th May 2016

Police have launched an investigation into Labour frontbencher Cat Smith over her expenses during the 2015 general election campaign.

Cat Smith faces accusations over the way she declared office and staffing costs ahead of the 2015 general election
PA Images

It is the first police probe into a Labour MP over 2015 election expenses, while nine different police forces are investigating Conservative spending.

Ms Smith, the Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, who was newly elected last year, faces questions over the way she declared office rent and staffing costs.

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The Lancaster and Fleetwood MP denied the allegations and insisted she would be "fully exonerated".

A Lancashire Police spokesperson confirmed to PoliticsHome this morning detectives were looking into Ms Smith's expenses.

“We have received a complaint and we are in the early stages of looking into the matter to establish whether there is anything to substantiate the allegations being made.

"At this stage we are not in a position to offer any further comment.”

According to the political blog Guido Fawkes, Ms Smith declared only half the rent for her constituency campaign office since it was also used for council campaigning.

The site also suggests Ms Smith under-declared for her campaign organiser during the short and long campaigns - a role advertised at £22,547 a year.

But Ms Smith argues the staff member in question, Ben Singleton, spent most of his time assisting the national Labour campaign and local council candidates.

And Guido Fawkes claims Ms Smith may have failed to declare stationary costs that would have been vital to her campaign.

Her expenses for the 2015 election came in at £2,000 below the constituency spending threshold.

Ms Smith told PoliticsHome: “I utterly deny the allegation that my election expenses broke the law.

"If the police do decide to investigate I will fully cooperate with their inquiries, including giving them full access to all my financial records from the general election campaign.

"I am confident that no case will be found and I will be fully exonerated.”

A Labour spokesperson said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing police investigation.”

Investigations into Tory election spending focus on whether battle bus campaigning in constituencies is classed as a local or a national expense.