Conservative MP’s election expenses investigated

The Plymouth Herald reports:

Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed it is looking into an allegation about former Army commando [and Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View] Johnny Mercer’s campaign spending.

MP Johnny Mercer says the allegations, and leaks to the media about the investigation, were part of a “prolonged and personal harassment campaign” against him by a Plymouth Labour Party activist who he confirmed he had started legal proceedings against…

The revelation comes only weeks after it emerged Plymouth Labour faces High Court action after overspending by £6,000 on its election campaign in Sutton and Devonport.

Labour has also made a complaint about a “systematic” attempt to fly-post with ‘Vote Johnny’ posters on the eve of the general election in the north of the city…

The Moor View MP said he paid for the clean-up because he did not want public money used to take the posters down. However, he says he played no part in putting them up…

There were also queries about why some of the campaign materials found did not contain official imprints, required by law.

Plymouth City Council (PCC) said it referred this to the police, which said it had already advised Mr Mercer on the requirement, as reported in The Herald before the general election.

Regarding the flyposting, the Western Morning News adds:

Before polling day, a statement written by Mr Mercer was posted on a website for commandos asking for “some manpower, and a decent dose of Commando Spirit” on election night.

Mr Mercer has denied ever mentioning “fly posting” and claimed he was just looking for helpers to “get out the vote”.

UPDATE (two years on):

Johnny Mercer, Tory MP for Plymouth Moor View, was investigated by police after the general election in 2015 and a file was handed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). It was decided, however, that there was insufficient evidence to charge him with any offence.

A Devon and Cornwall police report from the time states that Mercer had acknowledged during an interview that “some of his claims had been wrong” but had argued that they were minor, did not take him over election spending limits and that this was understandable given his lack of political experience. [The Guardian]

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