Conservatives accused of breaking election spending rules in 2015

Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty
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Ministers need to reassure people that the Government did not “cheat” its way to power at the 2015 general election amid allegations the Conservatives breached campaign spending rules, the SNP has said.

Electoral watchdogs are meeting with police and prosecutors in a bid to ensure they do not run out of time to launch possible criminal investigations into Tory campaign spending.

The party faces claims that accommodation costs of activists bussed into key constituencies should have been recorded under individual candidates’ limits and not as part of the national campaign.

SNP frontbench spokesman Pete Wishart called on ministers to clarify the situation as he raised the issue during the business statement.

He said: “We need an urgent statement on what’s going on with the investigation of the Conservative Party for breaking campaign spending rules in last year’s general election.

“The claims are absolutely extraordinary and centre around Conservative candidates, 28 Conservative candidates, failing to register the use of a battle bus for local campaigning and something like £38,000 of accommodation for local campaigns.

• Warning over deadline for possible criminal probes into Tory election spending

“If anybody’s found guilty of such a charge it could result in one year imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

“Surely we must now hear what the Government’s view on this is and there must be no whiff or suggestion that this Government cheated its way to power.”

Commons Leader Chris Grayling said “it is for proper authorities to address issues whenever they arise”.

He said that was what he had also said on previous occasions when similar claims relating to the SNP had been raised.

The Electoral Commission is currently probing the allegations and has said that work will take at least another month, taking it past the one-year time limit for launching criminal proceedings.

The Commission is meeting with relevant police forces and the Crown Prosecution Service to ask them to seek an extension.

The claims relating to Conservative spending covering the general election and three parliamentary by-elections were first raised by the Daily Mirror and Channel 4 News.

The party has blamed an “administrative error” for failing to register some accommodation costs.

But David Cameron has insisted it was right to include such expenditure as part of the national campaign.

• Tory election spending paperwork ‘all correctly done’, insists Grant Shapps

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