Police investigate Tory MP over election expenses

Police have launched a formal investigation into the election accounts of North Cornwall MP Scott Mann.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said that following complaints from “a small number” of members of the public, officers had launched an inquiry into allegations that Mr Mann’s declared election expenses did not portray an accurate picture of his spending.

Mr Mann has vigorously denied any wrong-doing but has conceded that he did not know any details of how some of the Conservative Party campaigning in his constituency had been accounted for.

The national party sent campaigners to North Cornwall in a touring “Battle Bus.” At issue is whether the travel and accommodation expenses for those campaigners should have been declared locally, or as part of a national campaign spend. [Cornish Guardian]

At the general election, Scott Mann took the seat from Liberal Democrat MP Dan Rogerson by 6,621 votes.

The police investigation follows the digging by Michael Crick and Channel 4, exposing how the Conservative campaign buses which toured the country were accounted under the party’s national expense return yet were closely linked to campaigning for named individual candidates.

That has also resulted in this stepping up of investigations into other Conservative MPs:

Following months of investigations by Channel 4 News, the Electoral Commission has requested an extension to the time limit available to pursue possible criminal prosecutions regarding Conservative Party campaign spending returns.

Bob Posner, Director of Party and Election Finance & Legal Counsel at the Electoral Commission said, “The police and the CPS both have the power to apply to the Courts to extend the time limit on bringing criminal prosecutions for electoral offences to allow for full investigations to take place. We have requested that they consider doing this.”

Representatives of the Electoral Commission and the Crown Prosecution Service will hold also hold a summit with a number of police forces to discuss the Conservative Party’s election expenses next week. [Channel 4]

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