Tories, Vote Leave face investigations over election expense allegations

First up, the Electoral Commission is now investigating the Conservatives over allegations the Tories fiddled their expense return in South Thanet by excluding hotel bills for staff and the like:

The Electoral Commission has today (18 February) announced that it has opened an investigation into allegations regarding the Conservative Party spending return at the 2015 UK Parliamentary General Election (UKPGE).  The allegations were first made by Channel 4 News on 20 January 2016.

The Commission’s announcement follows Kent Police’s decision not to pursue an investigation into allegations regarding the Conservative Party candidate spending return in the South Thanet constituency at the General Election. [Electoral Commission]

Also, the anti-European Vote Leave campaign is facing investigation over an email setting out ways to abuse the expense rules for the European referendum:

A Labour MP has asked the police to investigate pro-Brexit campaign Vote Leave after a senior Conservative eurosceptic suggested the group could use front organisations to get around spending limits, PoliticsHome can reveal.

Pat McFadden, the former Shadow Europe Minister, has written to the police and the chair of the Electoral Commission to highlight comments from Steve Baker about the EU referendum campaign…

As reported in The Times this morning, Conservative MP Mr Baker wrote in an email that Vote Leave would “spend as much money as is necessary to win the referendum” by creating “separate legal entities”.

In his letter to the police, seen by PoliticsHome, Mr McFadden called for an investigation as the comments suggested Vote Leave “may breach the law with respect to spending rules”.

“I urge you to urgently investigate whether Vote Leave’s clear plan to ‘create separate legal entities’ would amount to a plan to work together with other campaigners in a way that contravenes the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000,” Mr McFadden wrote. [PoliticsHome]

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