Questions raised over Christine Jardine election costs

Christine Jardine won the Edinburgh West seat in June's general election - but now faces questions on her election costs. Picture: TSPL
Christine Jardine won the Edinburgh West seat in June's general election - but now faces questions on her election costs. Picture: TSPL
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Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine has defended her election record after questions were raised over her spending.

The MP for Edinburgh West is the second in her party to face queries over their expenses in two days, after deputy leader Jo Swinson was accused of omitting thousands of pounds from her spending total.

A report by The Herald claims Ms Jardine, a former journalist, allocated a third of her election material bill to national spending, because it promoted the Lib Dems rather than her specifically as the local candidate.

It means she would have been £1,350 over the legal spending cap if this £3,000 had been counted towards her constituency campaign costs, according to the newspaper.

Ms Jardine told BBC Radio Scotland: “Like every other candidate I think it’s important that we follow the advice and the rules of the Electoral Commission.

“The rules are there for a reason and I am confident that we have followed that advice, at all times.

“There was money which was allocated as having been spent on the national campaign, but that’s because it was spent on a national campaign.

“It’s one of the weakest stories I’ve ever seen and I think it’s nothing more than an exercise in reputational damage.

“Everything that we sent out was accounted for in our filing.”

Speaking on the Good Morning Scotland programme, she added: “If it was local expenditure it would have been accounted for as local expenditure. It was national expenditure and therefore it was counted as national expenditure.

“That’s kind of like saying ‘I’ve spent X number amount on my car and X number of pounds on my house’ and then trying to say everything was spent on my house.”

Edinburgh West was one of the toughest electoral battles in the election and a specific target for the Lib Dems.

The party had held on to the seat since 1997, but it was won by the SNP’s Michelle Thomson in 2015 by 3,120 votes.

East Dunbartonshire MP Ms Swinson has also faced questions after thousands of pounds were omitted from her expenses as they were attributed to national spending and undelivered campaign materials.

Official declaration for the June election indicates her spending was £210 under the official limit of £14,619, The Herald reported on Thursday.

She said more than 93,000 leaflets and other material bought by the party at a cost of £2,700 were never used so could be omitted from the total, as could £4,040 which went on national spending promoting the party rather than her as a candidate.