Tory MP charged over election expenses fraud

Mackinlay was elected MP for South Thanet in 2015 beating Nigel Farage. Picture: Manu Palomeque/LNP
Mackinlay was elected MP for South Thanet in 2015 beating Nigel Farage. Picture: Manu Palomeque/LNP
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TORY candidate Craig Mackinlay has been charged with offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983 after an investigation into 2015 general election campaign expenses.

Mackinlay was elected as MP for South Thanet in 2015 beating Mr Farage - the then Ukip leader - into second place and is the Conservative candidate for the Kent constituency in this year’s election.

A spokesman for Mackinlay declined to comment but a Conservative Party spokesman said they believed the allegation against him was “unfounded”.

“The legal authorities have previously cleared Conservative candidates who faced numerous politically motivated and unfounded complaints over the party’s national battlebus campaigning,” the spokesman said.

“We continue to believe that this remaining allegation is unfounded. Our candidate has made clear that there was no intention by him or his campaigners to engage in any inappropriate activity.

“We believe that they have done nothing wrong, and we are confident that this will be proven as the matter progresses.

“The individuals remain innocent unless otherwise proven guilty in a court of law. The press, parties and those on social media should be aware of the provisions of the Contempt of Court Act and the strict liability rules against publishing anything which would prejudice the course of justice.

“There is a broad consensus that election law is fragmented, confused and unclear, with two different sets of legislation, and poor guidance from the Electoral Commission.

“Conservatives are committed to strengthening electoral law to tackle the real and proven cases of corruption that were exposed in Tower Hamlets in 2015.”

In a statement, the Crown Prosecution Service said that Mackinlay, 50, Marion Little, 62, and Nathan Gray, 28, had have each been charged with offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983.

They are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on July 4.

READ MORE: Police get extra time to investigate Tory electoral fraud claims

Here is the statement in full by Nick Vamos, Crown Prosecution Service Head of Special Crime:

“On 18 April we received a file of evidence from Kent Police concerning allegations relating to Conservative Party expenditure during the 2015 General Election campaign.

“We then asked for additional enquiries to be made in advance of the 11 June statutory time limit by when any charges needed to be authorised.

“Those enquiries have now been completed and we have considered the evidence in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

“We have concluded there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to authorise charges against three people.

“Craig Mackinlay, 50, Nathan Gray, 28, and Marion Little, 62, have each been charged with offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983 and are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 4 July 2017.

“Criminal proceedings have now commenced and it is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”