Tory Victory over Farage Might Have Been ‘Declared Void’ over Expenses, Court Hears

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay (C) arrives at Southwark Crown Court accused of two charges of making a false election expenses declaration on October 17, 2018 in London, England. Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay has been accused of overspending during the 2015 general election campaign in …
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Tory MP Craig Mackinlay’s 2015 election win in South Thanet, where he defeated UKIP candidate Nigel Farage, might have been “declared void” had an alleged overspend of expenses been declared, Southwark Crown Court has heard.

The jury heard Wednesday that Mackinlay, 52, his election agent Nathan Gray, 29, and 63-year-old party activist Marion Little submitted more claims than double that allowed during east Kent campaign, reports The Guardian.

Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee QC alleges that on top of the declared £52,000 in expenses, the defendants failed to submit an additional £66,000 in claims.

“In seeking to ensure the success of the Conservative party’s candidate and the defeat of Nigel Farage, we submit that proper regard to the limits of expenditure imposed by law was simply abandoned,” Mr Jafferjee to the jury.

“Each of these three defendants were complicit in the means deployed to achieve that end.

“Had the true position been declared, Craig Mackinlay’s election would have been at the risk of being declared void,” he added.

Prosecutors allege that the additional spending, which they claim was picked up by Tory Party central funds, was spent on accommodation, advertising and marketing, additional staff expenses, and a campaign battle bus.

The court also heard that the three defendants had been warned of a risk of overspend three months prior. Seasoned party activist Anthony Salter had sent an email to Ms Little in February warning the team: “We face a real prospect of a legal challenge from Farage if we make the smallest slip-up.”

The jury heard earlier in the week that the Tory Party had put in extra effort to win the South Thanet seat, where UKIP had substantial support, in the efforts to “see off Nigel Farage’s Parliamentary ambitions forever”.

Mr Mackinlay won the seat by 2,812 votes out of a total 70,970 votes cast in the May 2015 election.

The Tory MP denies two charges of making a false election expenses declaration. Election agent Gray denies one charge of using a false instrument and one charge of making a false election expenses declaration. Ms Little denies three counts of assisting or encouraging an offence. The trial is ongoing.

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