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Expenses election investigation in South Thanet continues, says chief constable

By Paul Francis

Kent Police say their investigation into claims over election expenses in South Thanet continues after the Conservative crime commissioner Matthew Scott publicly raised the issue with the chief constable.

The allegations centre on claims that certain expenses incurred by the Conservative party in the election battle for South Thanet were not properly reported.

The party has denied the claims and has consistently said that it complied with the rules around reporting its campaign expenditure.

Craig Mackinlay wins South Thanet at the general election watched by pub landlord Al Murray
Craig Mackinlay wins South Thanet at the general election watched by pub landlord Al Murray

Kent Police was granted an extension by the courts to examine the claims five months ago.

A district judge ruled in February there was a case for an extension because of the exceptional circumstances involved and there was a very significant public interest in the claims, first made by Channel 4 news, being investigated.

Mr Scott used a “holding to account” meeting with the chief constable Alan Pughsley on Monday to ask if there was any progress in the investigation.

In a brief reply, Mr Pughsley said it was on-going but there was “nothing significant” to report.

Under electoral law, inquiries into such allegations are normally expected to be completed within 12 months of a poll. However, the law also allows for extensions to this where there are exceptional circumstances.

The allegations, first raised by Channel 4 news, focus on whether the costs of bringing in Conservative activists by bus and hotel accommodation should have been recorded as local election spending or national.

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