Revealed: Tories refused four times to give Electoral Commission expenses information

The Conservative Party twice failed to comply with legal notices from the Electoral Commission to reveal information about election expenses returns, and then twice more failed to comply with repeated requests for the information.

Along the way the Conservative Party also stalled and twice asked for extra time to respond. Ironically, shortly afterwards the Conservative Party itself then employed lawyers to try to block the police’s request for more to investigate it.

Only when the Electoral Commission eventually went to court did the Conservative Party finally hand over what it says is all the information that was asked for.

The details are set out in the Electoral Commission’s recent witness statement to back up Kent Police’s successful legal action to extend the legal deadline for investigating Conservative election expenses:

On 18 February 2016, the [Electoral] Commission wrote to the [Conservative] Party … and issued a Notice under Schedule 19B paragraph 3 of PPERA. This Notice required the Party to produce material relating to the South Thanet matters. At the Party’s request the Commission extended the deadline for the provision of this material… When the Party formally responded to the Notice, the Commission considered that the Party had failed to comply fully with it.

On 23 March 2016 the Commission issued the Party was a second Notice … The Party did not comply with this Notice…

On 22 April 2016, the Commission wrote to the Party. It gave the Party a further deadline for the provision of the material the Party had failed to provide under two statutory Notices … On 28 April 2016 the Party’s legal representatives wrote to the Commission setting out its rationale for being unable to comply with the Commission’s request by the deadline given.

By letter dated 29 April 2016, the Commission wrote to the Party’s legal representatives and gave a final extended deadline… The party did not provide any further material by that extended deadline…

On 12 May 2016, the Commission made an application to the High Court … [and then] the Party provided the Commission with several boxes of material that it said responded fully to all outstanding requests.


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