Tories admit failing to declare thousands of pounds in election expenses
The Conservatives have admitted spending tens of thousands of pounds in the general election without declaring it to watchdogs.
An investigation by Channel 4 News revealed that the party spent more than £38,000 on accommodation for activists touring the country on its BattleBus 2015 campaign.
However, the party failed to declare the money to the Electoral Commission, as they were legally obliged to do.
A row has also broken out over whether the spending should have been declared by the Tory candidates in the seats they visited.
The BattleBus campaign visited 29 seats, with the Conservervatives going on to win 22 of them.
According to Channel 4 News, if the money spent in them had been declared by the local candidate, it would have exceeded the legal limit in 24 constituencies.
A Conservative spokesman blamed an "administrative error" for the failure to declare the money nationally, but insisted it should not have been part of the local candidates' spending returns.
"CCHQ campaigned across the country for the return of a Conservative government," said the spokesman. "Such campaigning would be part of the national return, not local return, as the Electoral Commission has said. As is apparent from our national return, the party declared expenditure related to our CCHQ-organised Battlebus.
"However, due to administrative error it omitted to declare the accommodation costs of those using the vehicles. This is something we have already brought to the attention of the Electoral Commission in order to amend the return.
"The Party always took the view that our national Battlebus, a highly-publicised campaign activity, was part of the national return - and we would have no reason not to declare it as such, given that the party was some millions below the national spending threshold. Other political parties ran similar vehicles which visited different parliamentary constituencies as part of their national campaigning."
But the Electoral Commission told Channel 4 News: “If activists were being bussed in to particularly campaign for a candidate, then according to the guidance that we provide, a candidate would have had to make a fair and honest assessment of this … and include that in their spending return.”