12 Feb 2016

Conservative election expenses: editor writes to Feldman

Channel 4 News submits ten new questions to the Conservative Chairman Lord Feldman requesting clarification surrounding allegations that the Party appears to have over-spent on key electoral campaigns

11th February 2016

Dear Lord Feldman,

We write further to our letters dated the 7th and 8th of February 2016 seeking a response to the findings of our investigation about undeclared election spending by the Conservative Party.

On the 8th of February, Channel 4 News broadcast a report by Michael Crick which examined claims of undeclared spending by the Conservative Party at three by-elections in 2014, namely Newark, Clacton and Rochester. On 9th February, we broadcast a follow-up report detailing our findings in respect of spending by the Conservative Party in Thanet South during the 2015 General Election which also appears not to have been declared.

The Conservative Party have to date declined repeated requests for interviews for Channel 4 News and other media outlets. As this matter has now been referred to the police for investigation, we now ask that you provide full and transparent answers to specific questions which you have failed to address.


2014 By-Election spending

1. In response to our report about the spending in the three 2014 by-elections named above, the Conservative Party stated:

“All spending has been correctly recorded in accordance with the law.”

Why was the cost of hotel accommodation for campaign workers incurred by the Conservative Party during the three by-elections in 2014 not declared as part of candidates’ spending returns?

2. Did you, as Chairman, authorise this spending during the by-election campaigns? If not, who did?

3. Was David Cameron, as Party Leader, informed of this expenditure?

4. Hotel bookings in the three 2014 by-elections are repeatedly attributed to Conservative Campaign Headquarters employee Ms Marion Little. Why were 734 nights of accommodation registered to her home address in Hertfordshire rather than the Conservative Party’s address in Westminster?

5. How did the Conservative Party reimburse Ms Marion Little for these expenses and were these payments logged?

6. Will the Conservative Party reassure the public that no employee agreed, verbally or in writing, to keep any by-election expenditure in 2014 hidden from the Electoral Commission?

7. Will the Conservative Party reassure the public that its employees did not engage in a conspiracy to mislead returning officers in the three by-elections?

2015 General Election Spending

8. Channel 4 News has reported on extensive hotel stays in relation to your campaign in Thanet South in the General Election of 2015. We have identified at least three hotels in the vicinity where party campaign workers were accommodated and where the costs were not declared on the constituency return. Can you explain why this is?

9. Why has the Conservative Party not supplied the full invoices of your business account with the Premier Inn for April 2015 and May 2015 to the Electoral Commission?

10. Are you prepared to release the full invoices now in the interests of transparency and democracy?

In closing we would ask whether you are willing to submit the Conservative Party to a full investigation into these matters by an independent outside body such as the Electoral Commission which would be able to examine your financial records and all emails to and or from staff such as Ms Marion Little.

This is a matter of the greatest public concern and we would greatly appreciate full and comprehensive answers at your earliest possible convenience as we continue to rigorously investigate these matters.

Channel 4 News intends to pursue this matter fully and will be broadcasting more reports in the coming days and weeks.