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Kent Police asks courts to grant more time to examine allegations about election expenses in South Thanet

By Paul Francis

An application by Kent Police to be given more time to examine claims made about election spending by the Conservatives is in limbo after the party challenged the move at a court hearing today.

Kent Police was seeking an extension of time to investigate claims first made by Channel 4 news that the Conservatives had not properly reported spending during the campaign in South Thanet.

The force made its application at a hearing in Folkestone today but it has been adjourned following a challenge by the Conservative party, whose legal representatives attended the hearing.

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 is the latest force to request an extension, but is the first to face a challenge.

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 claims centre on whether the expenses run up by the Conservatives in the South Thanet campaign were properly reported to the Electoral Commission.

Kent Police has been to court to ask for more time to probe election expenses
Kent Police has been to court to ask for more time to probe election expenses

The constituency is one of a number where the Tories are facing claims they failed to properly record the costs of “battle buses” and accommodation for scores of activists helping in key target seats.

The Conservative party has strongly denied any wrong-doing and says it complied with the rules on spending.

The party has not yet commented on today's hearing.

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