Conservative attempt to block police investigations into election expenses fails

I reported before how the Tories were trying to block some of the police investigations into election expense returns from the 2015 general election. Well, those attempts have failed:

Kent Police last week applied for an extension of the 12-month statutory limit into investigations of potential breaches of the Representation of the People Act at the 2015 general election.

An investigation by Channel 4 News and the Daily Mail newspaper alleged that the Tories broke spending limits in key marginal seats at the last general election…

[The Conservatives’] legal team argued that no special circumstances are in effect and that no extension should therefore be given. If they had succeeded, the investigation into the marginal seat would have effectively been stopped in its tracks.

Folkestone Magistrates Court however granted Kent Police the extension. [The Independent]

Given this ruling and in particular the grounds for making it, it’s looking pretty sure that all 17 of the police requests for deadline extensions will end up being granted.

It’s worth noting also that the judgement confirms that three Parliamentary by-elections are also under scrutiny:

The Commission are investigating offences in connection with

a. Campaign expenditure by or on behalf of the [Conservative] Party and/or its candidates in three by-elections in Clacton, Newark and Rochester and Strood in 2014 (which are now out of time for offences under the 1983 Act);

b. Campaign expenditure by or on behalf of the Party and/or its candidates in the South Thanet constituency during the 2015 general election (she describes these as the “South Thanet matters”);

c. Campaign expenditure by or on behalf of the Party and/or its candidates on the “Battlebus” campaign activity, including costs incurred on transport and accommodation, during the 2015 campaign (she describes these as “the Battlebus matters”)

Ruling on Kent Police’s application for time limit extension


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