The Electoral Commission report into Tory election spending is out. Here’s what you need to know:
The Tories admit fault: “This is the first time the Conservative Party has been fined for a reporting error. We regret that and will continue to keep our internal processes under review to ensure this does not happen again”. This means that Labour, LibDems and the Tories have all had maximum fines for breaching electoral laws in 2015.
Guido’s take is that the Tories will probably get away with just fines for the by-election over-spends in Clacton, Rochester & Strood and Newark. South Thanet however looks likely to be re-run. Eighth time lucky for Nige?
The CEO of the Conservative Party has been accused of failing in his duty of care by a whistleblower who is the victim of an extraordinary attempt to silence her. Yesterday Guido revealed how a young female witness had received a phone call from a man claiming to be a police officer, threatening her with arrest if she made public allegations of bullying. The caller, who sounded like a “middle aged man”, said he was an officer at Lewisham police station, yet refused to give a name. In an email to Lord Feldman and CCHQ CEO Simon Day, the whistleblower recounted the call:
“They told me that should I comment or repeat my allegations, or contact XXXXX again, they would arrest me. The police officer then mentioned my involvement in the Conservative Party and that “it wouldn’t look good if you got arrested”. He then told me to “grow up” and to not confront people and let my friends, some of whom have been affected by this bullying scandal, to make the complaints to the police. This person also made some personal comments in regards to social media and how he saw it as a medium for bullying.”
Lewisham police station have no record of the call being made. They are now investigating the police impersonator attempting to silence witnesses.
Simon Day responded to the whistleblower’s email, explaining he had passed details of the complaint to the British Transport Police, the force investigating the death of Elliott Johnson. However, despite someone calling young Tory activists attempting to intimidate them, Day refused to have anyone at CCHQ look at the incident. This is his legalese excuse:
“The Party can only investigate alleged acts of members of the Party. In the event that you establish the name of the individual who undertook this act, we will of course look to investigate such a complaint against a member of the Party. Any complaints are investigated in accordance with our formal disciplinary procedures as established by the Board of the Party. If I can be of any further assistance please contact me.”
A remarkable way for the CEO of the Tory party to respond to a young female activist who is the victim of shocking intimidation.
The whistleblower, who has asked to remain anonymous, tells Guido:
“Because I couldn’t identify the person on the phone, CCHQ are shrugging responsibility. Someone is being intimidated due to their involvement in the party and they are failing in their duty of care.”
Yet more textbook handling of complaints by young Tory activists by CCHQ…