Tories Fined £70,000 | Treasurer Faces Charges | Thanet Could Be Re-Run

The Electoral Commission report into Tory election spending is out. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Tories fined £70,000
  • £104,765 missing from 2015 election return
  • Another £118,124 not reported or reported incorrectly
  • A further 81 payments to the value of £52,924 missing
  • Registered Tory treasurer and former Tory party CEO, now CFO, Simon Day committed three contraventions under section 41 and two offences under section 82(4)(b) of PPERA
  • Day committed an offence in relation to spending in South Thanet in 2015
  • Tories overspent in Newark, Rochester & Strood and Clacton by-elections in 2014

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?

mdi-timer 16th March 2017 @ 7:57 am 16th Mar 2017 @ 7:57 am mdi-comment Comments
Mackinlay Interviewed Under Caution

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay was interviewed by police under caution for six hours last week over his election expenses in South Thanet, the Sun and Telegraph are reporting tonight. Kent Police are meeting with the CPS on Tuesday 21 March to discuss a possible prosecution. Here we go…

mdi-timer 14th March 2017 @ 5:43 pm 14th Mar 2017 @ 5:43 pm mdi-comment Comments
Nick Timothy Was ‘In Charge’ of Thanet Campaign

The Tories have consistently denied that Downing Street chief of staff Nick Timothy worked directly on the expenses scandal-hit South Thanet campaign. CCHQ’s line has been that Timothy only “provided assistance for the Conservative Party’s national team“. Tim Ross’ book ‘Why the Tories won‘ – the authoritative inside account of the 2015 general election – tells a very different story. By this account Timothy was drafted in by Lynton Crosby to “take charge” of the Thanet campaign:

Lynton Crosby called in Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s special adviser, who had experience of working on successful by-election campaigns before the 2010 election. He was sent to take charge of the party’s flagging campaign to stop Farage in Thanet, where Henry Macrory, the party’s former press chief, and Marion Little, from CCHQ’s campaign team, were already on the ground. The CCHQ reinforcements found a campaign in Thanet devoid of effective messages, with no strategy for turning the tide….

Ross also places Timothy at a restaurant in Thanet when one Nigel Farage walked in:

On one otherwise unexceptional evening, Farage, his election strategist, Chris Bruni-Lowe, and a number of other team members were enjoying a meal and relaxing over a few drinks – or maybe more than a few, after a long day, one of those present recalls. At a table across the room sat the rival Conservative team, including Henry Macrory and Nick Timothy. Farage spotted the table of Tories and, ever the bon viveur, picked up his glass and wandered over to engage them in conversation. ‘So this is what I’m up against, is it?’ the UKIP leader joked, in an attempt to break the ice. But there was no sign of a thaw. The table of Conservatives put down their forks and turned to Farage, fixing him with a hard stare. ‘We all just kind of looked at him and didn’t really say anything. After a while he went away,’ one of the Tories recalls. Another source says the Conservatives muttered abuse at Farage and told him he was ‘splitting the right’ and risked allowing Labour to win. Farage quickly concluded his attempt to socialise with the enemy would be fruitless and so he left. ‘Well, if they want to be rude, fuck ’em,’ he thought as he returned to his table and sat back down.

The original Tory line on this is in danger of blowing up…

mdi-timer 1st March 2017 @ 4:23 pm 1st Mar 2017 @ 4:23 pm mdi-comment Comments
Top May Aide Nick Timothy Gets Crick’d

The long legs of top Theresa May adviser Nick Timothy allow him to run away from Michael Crick’s Tory election expenses questions…

mdi-timer 28th February 2017 @ 6:28 pm 28th Feb 2017 @ 6:28 pm mdi-comment Comments
Tories Braced for Charges Over South Thanet

With this morning’s maximum fine and referral to police of the LibDems, which follows Labour’s maximum fine for expense irregularities, attention inevitably turns to the Tories’ spending. The focus will be South Thanet where the Tories ran a highly professional “Stop Farage” effort deploying some of their top operatives. All this was helpfully documented for the police in Tim Ross’ book Why the Tories Won: The Inside Story of the 2015 Election. Guido sources say that Conservative HQ is bracing itself for the police investigation resulting in criminal charges.

South Thanet misspending a not an Electoral Commission matter. It is a police matter and potentially a criminal offence under sections 81, 82 and 84 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. Back in June Craig Mackinlay, the Tory who beat Farage, failed to block police extending the time available for their investigation of his election expenses spending. The Tories – in a very rare move – tried to block the police from further investigating the campaign. Guido believes that the South Thanet campaign will prove to be the biggest overspend by any political party in any individual seat ever. Guido understands the Tories spent over £200,000 to stop Nigel Farage winning the seat…

Could 2017 see Nigel Farage in parliament? When Guido asked him if he would stand in a re-run in Thanet he was ambiguous about it. Never say never, Nige….

mdi-timer 7th December 2016 @ 10:12 am 7th Dec 2016 @ 10:12 am mdi-comment Comments
LibDems Given Maximum Expenses Fine, Broke Electoral Law, Referred to Police

The Electoral Commission has given the LibDems the maximum £20,000 election fraud fine, ruled they committed multiple offences and referred them to the police. Guido had previously told how LibDem candidates had split their spending between their local and national spend – they even had a handy spreadsheet used to cook the books. Time and time again the LibDems told us they had done everything above board. The Electoral Commission’s investigation uncovered 307 payments totalling £184,676 which the candidate had split between local and national spend, but which were missing from the national return. They have ruled that the LibDems committed multiple offences under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act and issued them with the maximum fine. They also slammed the LibDems for contributing to “damage to public confidence” and “detriment to transparency in politics”. Here’s the real kicker: the Electoral Commission notes that knowingly or recklessly making a false declaration is a more serious criminal offence, of which they believe the LibDems are guilty. They have referred the matter to the Metropolitan Police…

mdi-timer 7th December 2016 @ 7:53 am 7th Dec 2016 @ 7:53 am mdi-comment Comments
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