Political

Police investigation into electoral fraud reaches right into Theresa May’s inner circle

Prime Minister’s chief of staff Nick Timothy “provided assistance” to a controversial election campaign now under investigation by police, Channel 4 News has established.

Michael Crick over at Channel 4 news has kept on digging into the series of Conservative election expense scandals which have seen more of Theresa May’s MPs implicated than the size of her majority:

Theresa May’s Downing Street aide is in the spotlight amid questions over the Conservatives, campaign to stop Nigel Farage winning a seat in Parliament at the last election.

Channel 4 News, which has been investigating the party’s election spending since February, has obtained new evidence suggesting a “crack team” of Tories including Mr Timothy were involved in Craig Mackinlay’s local campaign from a hotel in Ramsgate.

Kent Police and the Electoral Commission are currently investigating whether the Conservative Party broke the law by failing to properly declare tens of thousands of pounds in hotel bills, including approximately £14,000 at the Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate where Mr Timothy stayed.

Rather oddly, the Conservative Party’s explanation as given to Channel 4 is that Nick Timothy was working on the national campaign from the hotel in Ramsgate. Not working on it from his home, or from the Conservative Party’s national HQ where the national campaign was being run. But from a hotel in Ramsgate.

It’s the same explanation the Conservatives have given to the police (which ups the stakes about it being true rather):

Any national Conservative Party staff based in the Royal Harbour Hotel were part of a national campaign team and were engaged in activities at the direction of Conservative Central Headquarters.

Other Conservative staff has been further implicated too as Channel 4 further reports:

The new evidence obtained by Channel 4 News also suggests that Conservative staff staying at the Royal Harbour Hotel were working on Craig Mackinlay’s local campaign.

The programme has obtained a large number of press releases sent out on behalf of Mr Mackinlay by the former Conservative Party Head of Press, Henry Macrory. Mr Macrory was part of the team who were guests at the Royal Harbour.

The press releases are branded “Craig Mackinlay – Conservative Candidate for South Thanet”. They contain Mr Mackinlay’s twitter handle and Facebook page. All say “For further information please call Henry Macrory”. The press releases were promoted by his local agent.

The programme has also obtained emails showing Mr Macrory acting as Mr Mackinlay’s press officer. In one email sent in March 2016, Mr Macrory told local journalists: “I will be helping out with Craig Mackinlay’s media during the election campaign.

“Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can assist in any way. In the next few days or so I will start sending you a regular e-mail giving you an outline of what Craig will be up to during the week ahead.”

 

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