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Conservative Craig Mackinlay charged in connection with 2015 South Thanet election expenses

By KentOnline reporter

Kent Tory candidate Craig Mackinlay is due in court charged with offences relating to expenses incurred at the last election.

It comes after Kent Police handed over a file to the Crown Prosecution Service in April.

The CPS had earlier looked at files from 14 forces "in respect of allegations relating to Conservative Party candidates' expenditure during the 2015 General Election campaign."

The moment Craig Mackinlay won the South Thanet seat

The moment Craig Mackinlay won the South Thanet seat

But no criminal charges were authorised against the others.

That means former Medway councillor Craig Mackinlay, who is fighting to retain his South Thanet seat, is the only candidate to be charged with an offence.

Two others who worked with Mr Mackinlay have also been charged.

A statement released today by the CPS said: “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. 

Craig Mackinlay

Craig Mackinlay

“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." 

On his Facebook page, Mr Mackinlay said: "My candidature in South Thanet is entirely unaffected and my campaign continues as before. I will not let this decision affect the hard work I do for my constituents."

"I've done nothing wrong and I am confident that this will be made very clear as the matter progresses."

He also questioned the timing of the announcement.

Meanwhile, his local Conservative association has also expressed its support for its candidate. In a statement, it said: 

"We were totally shocked to hear that charges have been made against Craig Mackinlay. He continues to have our total support. We will continue to work hard alongside Craig to ensure his re-election on 8th June."

A statement from Conservative Central Office said: "The legal authorities have previously cleared Conservative candidates who faced numerous politically motivated and unfounded complaints over the Party’s national Battlebus campaigning.

“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."

Theresa May said: "The Conservative party continues to believe that these allegations are unfounded. Craig Mackinlay is innocent until proven guilty and he remains our candidate."

The Electoral Commission has confirmed Mr Mackinlay is still eligible to stand as a candidate following the charge.

 

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