LDV’s Top Twelve of 2016: #6 Undeclared Conservative election expenses unearthed by Channel 4 News

Over the next few days, we will be publishing our twelve most read posts of 2016. Many thanks to the 533,000 people who have visited the site over the past tumultuous 12 months. 

The second half starts off with a report from Channel 4 News about Michael Crick’s investigations into Conservative election expense returns for the 2015 General Election.

Michael Crick, Channel 4 News’s political correspondent, has spent months investigating the Conservative Party’s election expenses from last year’s general election, focussing on the party’s “battle buses”, which moved activists around the country, and the associated costs incurred (e.g. hotels).

Last night’s programme featured another report, this time looking at the use of the buses in the South-West, where the Conservatives successfully targeted every one of the 14 seats held by the Lib Dems:

In response to Crick’s investigation, the Conservatives accepted that they had failed to declare some expenses for hotels due to what they termed an “administrative error”.

Yet the more fundamental question which the Electoral Commission is apparently investigating is whether the costs associated with the battle bus should properly have been accounted for on local rather than national expenses returns. The Tories insist that they should not, but if the Electoral Commission takes a different view it on the face of it could mean that in several constituencies, the Conservatives exceeded spending limits.

The Electoral Commission told Channel 4 News:

The Commission is currently conducting an investigation into the Conservative Party’s 2015 General Election spending return and will consider carefully any new allegations that are raised as part of the Channel 4 News programme.

In line with the Commission’s Enforcement Policy, the Commission does not comment on on-going investigations, as to do so may hinder the conduct of the investigation.

Given the interest of the Lib Dems in the seats under investigation, one hopes the party is paying close attention to, and where necessary assisting, the Electoral Commission’s work.

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One Comment

  • Adrian Sanders 30th Dec '16 - 4:16pm

    “Given the interest of the Lib Dems in the seats under investigation, one hopes the party is paying close attention to, and where necessary assisting, the Electoral Commission’s work.” Can’t say I’ve noticed any attention at all. Things have developed slowly but surely around the Torbay claims, but no one from the Party has been in touch to ask about it, let alone lend advice. Perhaps, at least, someone unknown to me, is assisting the EC? Might be helpful to liaise if they are.

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