This Tory MP just failed to block investigations into his alleged electoral fraud

One of the Conservative MPs embroiled in allegations of electoral fraud has just lost an attempt to block further police investigations into the issue.

Craig Mackinlay, the Tory MP for South Thanet, recently sought to block police attempts to extend the time limit for investigations into alleged election fraud. Kent Police was responding to allegations that accommodation for visiting Conservative activists had not been properly recorded at a local level and that this represented a breach of election spending rules.

As Channel 4 has stressed:

the party spent almost £20,000 supporting Mr Mackinlay – money that was either declared as national spending, not local spending, or not declared at all.

The targeted Tory assault on South Thanet clearly helped Mackinlay to win his marginal seat in a close-fought battle against UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

The court ruling against Mackinlay

On 1 June, Mackinlay’s legal challenge failed. The reason, said District Judge Justin Barron, was that:

Read on...

There is a very significant public interest in the matter being fully investigated… The consequences of a conviction would be of a local and national significance with the potential for election results being declared void.

Kent Police will now have another year to investigate the allegations.

Barron insisted that his decision was based on:

The nature and extent of the enquiry with the involvement of the Electoral Commission and investigations taking place not just in South Thanet but across the country

He added:

this is on an unprecedented scale

In a witness statement to the court, the Electoral Commission said:

The investigation has been delayed and hindered by the failure of the [Conservative] Party to provide complete and timely disclosure…

individuals and/or the Conservative Party may have committed deliberate acts intended to circumvent the party and election finance rules… these allegations go to the very heart of our democracy.

Timothy Straker QC, who represented Kent Police in court, argued that an extension to the investigation time limit was appropriate because exceptional circumstances were involved in this case. He said:

we have an allegation of national funds being used… to buy an election… What could be more exceptional than one party defeated by another using national funds contrary to law?

Mackinlay has also been accused of paying at least one unemployed person to support his 2015 campaign in South Thanet without declaring it as a local expenditure.

This is not over yet

Under David Cameron, the Conservative party has become the first government in British history to face police investigations into alleged electoral fraud. Claiming only an “administrative error”, the Conservatives insist the tens of thousands of pounds that possibly should have been declared as local expenses were rightly recorded nationally. But the rules on election spending are carefully designed to ensure that wealthier political parties do not have an unfair advantage over their opponents, and at least 29 Tory candidates may have broken these rules. Channel 4 reports that there are now:

18 police forces up and down the country that have been given or are seeking an extension to the time limit relating to election expenses.

The Canary has been following the electoral fraud allegations very closely in recent months:

  • In early February 2016, we spoke about Channel 4’s discovery of the Conservatives failure to declare thousands in campaign spending at three by-elections in 2014, which a party campaign manager soon admitted was “systematic” behaviour.
  • As similar revelations about 2015 general election spending came to light, we amplified calls for the matter not to be brushed under the carpet.
  • In late April, we reported on the Electoral Commission’s announcement that it had asked the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the police to apply for time limit extensions for their investigations. Since the start of May, we have followed the progress on this issue as police forces began investigating the Conservative party’s potential electoral fraud.
  • We have criticised the BBC for its lack of coverage of the scandal, and praised Twitter users for making #ToryElectionFraud trend.
  • We have also reported on the Conservatives’ alleged breach of a law prohibiting the payment of canvassers to support electoral candidates, and on complaints about personalised letters sent to voters in David Cameron’s name (and declared only as a national expense) which may have helped to win over marginal constituencies.

We are still undertaking an intensive investigation into the electoral fraud allegations. Stick with us for more revelations in the coming days and weeks.

Get involved!

– See other Canary articles on the electoral fraud scandal.

– Be a part of the People’s Electoral Commission – look up your postcode to check on your MP.

Support The Canary’s independent journalism. Contact us with leads and information: hello(at)

Featured image via Twitter (alternative source here)

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed