Lawyers acting for the Conservative Party are trying block police investigations into their election expenses in Kent:
Tory Party lawyers oppose a request from Kent Police to extend the time limit needed to investigate their election spending. The Conservatives say that all local spending has been declared correctly. [Channel 4]
There’s more on this and yet more details about what the Tories did but didn’t declare on the Thanet South constituency return in the latest Channel 4 TV piece:
At least two other police forces have already secured such legal extensions, which makes the attempt to stop them in Kent all the more curious.
Previously the Electoral Commission had to go to court in order to secure access to evidence from the Conservative Party. The Tories have also already admitted leaving out £38,000 of expenditure from their national expense return which should have been included.
Meanwhile, there is a petition from the pressure group Unlock Democracy calling on Scotland Yard to launch a national investigation into election expenses rather than the current patchy set of different local investigations. In particular that would make sense because much of the questionable Conservative activity was organised and instructed at a national level. You can sign the petition here [now closed].
One of those local investigations is in Sussex where the police have confirmed they are now investigating the expense return from the Conservative MP for Lewes. This brings to 15 the number of Conservative MPs named as under police investigation. The Conservative majority in the House of Commons is 12.
As ever, it is worth remembering that the problem here is not only whether or not the law was broken, but also the fact that even if everyone kept to the law, the election expense rules are fundamentally broken.
UPDATE: The Tory effort to block police investigations has failed.
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