The Conservative Party are “bracing themselves” for criminal charges over the conduct of their campaign against Nigel Farage in the South Thanet seat during last year’s General Election.
The party is accused of spending over the legal limit to contest the seat in a desperate bid to keep Mr Farage out of Parliament.
In June, Craig Mackinlay, the Conservative who beat Nigel Farage in that election, failed to stop police extending the time available to investigate his election expenses.
The Guido Fawkes blog says it expects the Conservative Party’s overspend in the seat to be the biggest by any political party in history, claiming the party spent over £200,000 to stop Mr Farage becoming an MP. The legal limit is £15,000.
This overspend is potentially a criminal offence under sections 81, 82 and 84 of the 1983 Representation of the People Act.
If convicted, there is chance the election will have to be rerun in South Thanet with Mr Mackinlay disqualified from running.
In February, a Channel 4 investigation alleged the Conservatives spent hundreds of thousands on hotels for activists who had been bused into the seat from around the country, and then failed to declare them on expenses.
The party insists these were part of the national campaign, and therefore should not apply to their expenses for the seat.
Police looked into the allegations and in June were granted an extension to their investigation. In a rare move, the Conservatives tried to block the extension, but failed.
Breitbart London reported in June that District Judge John Barron said claims about the Tory expenses were on an “unprecedented scale” and could result in the “election results being declared void”.
“In my judgment, the combination of circumstances before me is wholly exceptional and goes far beyond the usual circumstances that would exist in a typical case where election offences are being investigated,” he said.