The BBC’s Andrew Marr challenged Chancellor Philip Hammond on alleged Conservative electoral fraud on 5 March.
Channel 4 News have done sterling work in pursuing the Conservative Party about election irregularities. Do you think you’re going to face by-elections as a result of what’s coming?
Hammond stumbled, before replying:
The party has already acknowledged that we made an administrative error in the way some of the returns were made. In fact, we drew that error to the attention of the Electoral Commission and the due process has to be followed through. And we will cooperate fully with the Electoral Commission in doing that.
But there’s a catch. Marr did not challenge Hammond’s answer. Even though the Conservative Party hasn’t been cooperating fully with the Electoral Commission or the police. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Despite two statutory notices, time extensions and a legal obligation, the party withheld information from the Electoral Commission relevant to its investigation in May 2016. The Conservatives only handed over the information after the watchdog applied for a High Court order.
On top of this, Conservative Party lawyers opposed a request from Kent Police for an extension to the time limit for their investigation. But Kent Police were eventually granted the 12 month extension. Nine police officers are presently investigating allegations that South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay illegally overspent in the 2015 General Election. The election was high profile because Mackinlay was up against UKIP’s Nigel Farage.
But the electoral fraud allegations go beyond the seat in Kent. As Channel 4 News reports:
The South Thanet seat is one of 29 currently under police investigation after Channel 4 News revealed hundreds of thousands of pounds in Conservative campaign spending may not have been properly declared.
The dates of the documents contained in the cache further suggest that Mr Timothy may have breached strict civil service rules that banned special advisors from any political activity while they are still receiving their taxpayer-funded salary.
Downing Street is “deeply worried” that the police investigations could threaten May’s thin parliamentary majority, according to The Daily Mail. The probes could result in a number of by-elections.
Watch Marr ask Hammond about the election expenses scandal here:
Featured image via YouTube