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Police investigation into Conservative spending on South Thanet campaign will be completed within next two months

By Paul Francis

An inquiry into claims concerning Conservative election expenses in South Thanet will be completed within two months, according to the Kent chief constable.

Alan Pughsley said he was confident the ongoing investigation into the claims would be completed in time for any decision about possible charges.

It has emerged nine police officers in the constabulary are investigating the claims first made by Channel 4 News, which focus on allegations that the party’s expenditure in South Thanet was not properly reported to the Electoral Commission.

The moment Craig Mackinlay won the South Thanet seat
The moment Craig Mackinlay won the South Thanet seat

The fight for South Thanet was high-profile because it was where Ukip leader Nigel Farage was standing but was defeated by Craig Mackinlay.

The inquiry is examining whether the law was broken over what parties are entitled to spend on local campaigning and national expenditure.

It has been claimed that in South Thanet money spent by the Conservatives was attributed wrongly to national spend rather than the local campaign. Had it done so, spending limits would have been breached.

Asked by Kent crime commissioner Matthew Scott about the progress of the inquiry at a governance meeting this week, Mr Pughsley said he expected it would be completed “in a month or two” and would be within the time frame for any action.

Kent Police Chief Constable Alan Pughsley
Kent Police Chief Constable Alan Pughsley

He added that he could not go any further with details about the investigation.

Under electoral law, the police have until June to decide whether to act.

The Conservatives have consistently denied any wrong-doing saying all election expenditure was properly reported in accordance with the law.

If it is established rules were broken, there could be a re-run of the contest. Nigel Farage has said he could contest the seat for a second time.

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