Electoral Commission investigates Tory election spending

Posted On: 
18th February 2016

The elections watchdog has launched an investigation into the Conservative party’s spending for its campaign in South Thanet. 

Kent Police has decided not to pursue a criminal investigation into the reports, first aired on Channel 4 News, that the Tories attributed £14,000 worth of hotel bills to national expenditure rather than putting it towards the constituency spending limit.

Parties were restricted to £15,016 for each seat in the run-up to May’s general election, but that does not cover national spending.

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Kent Police were asked to look into whether the local Tory agent had committed an offence by failing to fully disclose election expenses.

At a meeting with the Electoral Commission yesterday it said it was not following up the case “at this time”.

The Commission said it had reminded the police that the expiration for it to investigate the claims would expire one year on from the May general election – unless the force asks for an extension.

The Conservatives were seeking to hold the seat against the challenge of Ukip leader Nigel Farage. 

In the absence of a police investigation, the Electoral Commission has announced it is pursuing its own inquiries into the claims.  

“The priority of the Electoral Commission is to conduct a fair and thorough investigation and the time taken to complete an investigation varies on a case-by-case basis,” the watchdog said.

”Once the investigation is complete, the Commission will be able to decide whether any breaches have occurred and if so what further action, if any, may be appropriate.

“The Commission’s sanctioning powers are limited to a civil penalty of up to £20,000.”