Notts Police ask to see records of Tory by-election expenses declaration & returns following our investigation into undisclosed spending across three by-elections and a key General Election marginal.
Evidence obtained by Channel 4 News appears to show that the Conservatives racked up tens of thousands of pounds in undisclosed spending across three by-elections in 2014.
With each by-election there is a strict regulated period – as candidates can only spend up to £100,000 in the run-up to the contest – in order to ensure that larger or richer parties cannot get an unfair advantage.
The apparent over-spends occurred in three contests where the Conservatives waged a fierce campaign against UKIP – in Newark, where MP Patrick Mercer stepped down and the seat was held by the Tories, and Clacton and Rochester, where the sitting Conservative MPs defected and kept the seats for their new party.
In each constituency there was a similar pattern – where senior staff from the party were booked into a more upmarket hotel and more junior staff into a Premier Inn in the area. Channel 4 News has obtained receipts, reproduced in full below, which provide evidence of spending which does not appear to have been declared by the party.
In response to this programme’s allegations, a Conservative Party spokesperson said: “All by-election spending has been correctly recorded in accordance with the law.”
Channel 4 News has also obtained receipts from the General Election in 2015 – and found that staff were staying in the Premier Inn in the constituency of Thanet North with the spending allocated to the national campaign.
This is despite the fact that neighbouring Thanet South – a fiercely fought local campaign to prevent Nigel Farage from becoming an MP – was the only marginal seat in the general vicinity (the seat in the north of the town has been held by the party since 1983).
In response to this programme’s allegations, a Conservative Party spokesperson has repeatedly stated: “All by-election spending has been correctly recorded in accordance with the law.”
However Channel 4 News has submitted 10 new questions to the Conservative Party requesting more detail and clarity surrounding this matter.
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Click here to download the full receipts obtained by Channel 4 News for party staff who stayed at the Kelham House Country Manor.
Click here to download the full receipts obtained by Channel 4 News for the Premier Inn in Margate, in the Thanet North constituency, which borders on the location of one of the bitterest battles of the General Election campaign.