Labour has been hit with the maximum £20,000 fine after the Electoral Commission found a total of 107 invoices were missing from the party’s general election expenses return. Labour general secretary Iain McNicol was found to have committed an offence under section 82(4)(b) of PPERA in respect of the missing payments and a further offence under section 82(4)(b) in respect of the missing invoices. Labour have also been slammed for failing to declare payments in relation to their Labour Express and Labour Students bus tours, which were revealed by Guido. The Commission ruled:
“a further 49 payments relating to costs associated with the Labour Express tour and Labour Students tour, which should have been included in the party spending return”
The report is damning of McNicol:
“Mr McNicol failed, without reasonable excuse, to deliver to the Commission a campaign spending return which was a statement of all payments made by the Party in respect of its campaign for the 2015 UKPGE. In total 74 payments totalling £123,748 were missing from the Party’s 2015 UKPGE campaign spending return without a reasonable excuse. 54.
Further and in respect of the same return, Mr McNicol failed to deliver to the Commission all invoices and receipts for campaign payments of more than £200. Thirty three invoices and/or receipts were missing (in addition to those associated with the missing 74 payments), with a combined value of £34,392.”
This investigation looked at Labour’s national spend, the police are still investigating individual candidates such as Cat Smith. Despite finding at least two offences committed, over a hundred invoices and over a hundred thousand pounds missing, all the toothless Electoral Commission can do is award a small fine…
Lancashire Constabulary confirm they have been granted a year-long extension to investigate Cat Smith’s election expenses. Here we go…
Crick covered Guido’s story last night that the Tories had lawyered up in their row with the Electoral Commission. Meanwhile, the Labour press office are spinning a line responding to our revelation that 17 of their candidates failed to declare battle buses. Labour tell the Times:
“This was part of a nationally branded tour so the transport costs are rightly national spend. Labour’s spending is within the law and the rules set out by the Electoral Commission.”
Below is taken from page 25 of Harriet Harman’s official internal Labour General Election Report. In their own words, Labour admit that the four buses were “dedicated to supporting marginal seats”, not the national campaign. The report explains how campaigners worked “with nearby marginal seats and given incentives to prioritise work in those areas”.
There it is in black and white: Labour’s buses worked to support marginal seats, not the national campaign. Electoral Commission rules are clear, this should have been declared as part of each local campaign. Bang to rights…
The Tories have sent the Electoral Commission a lawyer’s letter after it emerged the staffer who spearheaded the Thanet election expenses inquiry had made a string of anti-Tory comments. Louise Edwards is the Electoral Commission’s Head of Regulatory Compliance – it was her who provided a witness statement to the police on the Commission’s behalf in Thanet. Her Facebook page is full of anti-Tory rants, including:
“Louise Edwards cannot believe that she lives under a tory PM again! what is wrong with people?”
“just don’t understand what people were thinking – do they not remember the Tories before?”
“doesn’t want to live under a tory government”
The Tories say Edwards is guilty of making misleading statements to court. Will she survive the week?
Tory MP Charles Walker writes to the Electoral Commission demanding they investigate Hattie’s pink bus, the LibDem battle bus, the SNP chopper and Labour’s four undeclared battle buses. Circular firing squad…
Labour candidates in 17 key marginals failed to declare battle buses packed with activists in their election expenses. According to the party’s official General Election Report, Labour Students operated a fleet of four buses “dedicated to supporting marginal seats across the country”. Electoral Commission rules are clear: “a portion of the cost of that bus should be allocated towards the candidate’s spending limit…”
The schedule below shows the buses – known as “Brad’s Bus”, “West Mids Wheels”, “The NUS Bus” and “Woolas’ Wagon” – carried activists to 17 key seats. None of the Labour candidates declared the buses or accommodation costs of putting up activists, as required by law…
New MPs including Cat Smith, Margaret Greenwood and Chris Matheson did not declare these transport costs, despite benefiting directly from campaigners bussed into their constituencies. This is incontrovertible evidence of a widespread failure to declare election expenses across the country. It is the bombshell that explains why Labour did not go after the Tories over their own election fraud. Guido will be handing his evidence over to the police…