Conservative Party fined £70,000 following investigation into election campaign expenses
Published: 16 Mar 2017
The Conservative Party have been fined a total of £70,000 following the conclusion of the Electoral Commission’s investigation into the party’s campaign spending. The investigation concluded that there were significant failures by the Party to report accurately on how much it spent on campaigning at three by-elections in 2014 and at the 2015 UK Parliamentary general election.
The Conservative Party’s 2015 UK Parliamentary general election spending return was missing payments worth at least £104,765.
Separately, payments worth up to £118,124 were either not reported to the Commission or were incorrectly reported by the party. A portion of this amount should have been included in the Party’s return but wasn’t. Another portion was put into the Party’s return when it was candidate spending in a number of constituencies where the Party spent money promoting individual candidates.
In addition, the Party did not include the required invoices or receipts for 81 payments to the value of £52,924.
Finally, the Party failed to maintain records explaining the amounts it invoiced to candidates in three 2014 by-elections, for work on their campaigns. Therefore the accuracy of the amounts could not be verified.
Commenting on the outcome of the investigation, Sir John Holmes, Chair of the Electoral Commission said:
“Our investigation uncovered numerous failures by a large, well-resourced and experienced Party to ensure that accurate records of spending were maintained and that all of the Party’s spending was reported correctly. The rules established by Parliament for political parties and their finances are there to ensure transparency and accountability. Where the rules are not followed, it undermines voters’ confidence in our democratic processes, which is why political parties need to take their responsibilities under the legislation seriously.”
Sir John Holmes continued;
“This is the third investigation we have recently concluded where the largest political parties have failed to report up to six figure sums following major elections, and have been fined as a result. There is a risk that some political parties might come to view the payment of these fines as a cost of doing business; the Commission therefore needs to be able to impose sanctions that are proportionate to the levels of spending now routinely handled by parties and campaigners.”
Background to the Conservative Party investigation
Under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) it is the responsibility of a political party’s registered treasurer to ensure that an accurate and complete campaign spending return is submitted to the Electoral Commission by the statutory deadline following national elections.
Following the publication of the Conservative Party’s 2015 UK Parliamentary general election spending return on 20 January 2016, Channel 4 News raised concerns – which fed into the Commission’s own investigations – that the Conservative Party’s spending return may have been incomplete. Their allegations also indicated that the Party’s spending return for the 2014 European Parliamentary elections also may not have been complete.
Following initial enquiries with the Party, the Commission opened an investigation on 15 February 2016.
Scope of the Commission’s investigation
In summary, the Commission’s investigation considered the following:
- Whether campaign costs incurred by the Party in the South Thanet constituency during the 2015 general election campaign were correctly reported by the Party.
- Whether campaign costs incurred by the transport of activists by the Party to a number of constituencies across the UK during the 2015 general election campaign were correctly reported by the Party.
- Whether any further payments were omitted from the Party return
- Whether there were any required invoices or receipts missing from the Party return.
Conclusions of the investigation
The investigation has now ended and concluded that Mr Simon Day, the registered treasurer of the party until April 2016, committed three contraventions under section 41 and two offences under section 82(4)(b) of PPERA.
The Conservative Party has been fined £70,000 under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums (Civil Sanctions) Order 2010. The Party has until 13 April 2017 to pay the fine.
Summary of findings:
The Commission found that:
For more information please contact Megan Phillips in the Electoral Commission press office.
Notes to editors:
Op-ed: The Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson said magnanimously Saturday that now is not the time to ditch Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The wording of the above depends on the publication. "Ditching" is the obvious choice for the Daily Mail while other publications opt for "now is not the time for a leadership contest" and "Tom Watson stands by Corbyn."
Mr Watson was speaking at the Labour Party's Scottish conference Saturday two days after two by-elections.
Politics is certainly a funny old game.
Plenty of party members would rather Tom Watson was ditched but he seems to be sitting pretty as the party's Deputy Leader.
Perhaps it is time the Labour Party ditched the role of Deputy? Is it really a necessary role?
As many party members believe rightly or wrongly that Mr Watson was well in the so-called chicken coup of 2016 we definitely need a Deputy Leadership challenge.
Watson still has a great deal of support especially from the right-wing of the Labour Party or as they prefer to call themselves soft left or moderates.
He is still tied to Tony Blair's Progress organisation, a party within a party if we are to reciprocate with words used to describe Momentum.
Labour Party candidate Gareth Snell won the Stoke Central by-election Thursday but the party's Copeland seat was lost.
The Labour Party's share of the Copeland vote has been decreasing over some time and in some ways defeat was perhaps a natural progression. People have their own ideas on what went wrong in Copeland and all perhaps have some truth to them.
But no political party can afford to lose seats.
The prime objective of the Labour Party has to be forming a government and removing the slash happy Tories who are now lead by unelected Theresa May.
BRexit is occupying most headlines and analysis and is detracting from Mrs May's dreadful government.
By the time voters wake up to what is happening it could be too late.
Boundary changes which will reduce the Labour Party's chances of election success are imminent meaning we could soon be a one party state.
Mr Watson also said Saturday that the Labour Party does not need progressive political alliances and this woman agrees with that.
We need a real Labour Party government and soon.
Is it going to be another case of years of Tory misrule until finally the worm turns? That is what happened during the Thatcher years and beyond until 1997.
That left the new Labour government with a mountain to climb.
Watson was in this woman's opinion also right when Saturday he said "We have to do better, we cannot sustain this level of distance from our electorate" as long as the WE means every single person attached to the Labour Party.
The electorate are being drip fed negative news re the Labour Party and many times it is via our own MPs, councillors or affiliates. Too many people have their own agendas, groups, big egos and more.
WE need to take a long hard look at ourselves top to bottom.
Our paid representatives should be leading by example.
This woman looks forward to getting back to attacking the Tories in her blogs but will continue to offer honest opinions as a long standing Labour Party voter until those in authority get their act in order.
It´s not the time to ditch Corbyn, says Tom Watson
Tom Watson stands by Jeremy Corbyn despite Copeland defeat
Did someone kick Jeremy Corbyn
Op-ed: Having stayed up into the wee small hours to watch the Stoke Central and Copeland by-election results Thursday as they came in this brief report is relatively late in the day.
So first the result.
The Labour Party held Stoke Central but lost Copeland to a Tory candidate.
The world and its wife has already had their say and the knives are out for Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn but the big loser is UKip and its party leader Paul Nuttall.
This woman is watching BBC daily politics as she writes and first things first the Labour MP for Cumbria John Woodcock is sharing his twopenneth.
Mr Woodcock, like Jamie Reed who quit Copeland triggering the by-election, has been vocally against Jeremy Corbyn from day one. Obviously then this woman wonders what he and others of the same mind said on the doorstep campaigning in Copeland.
To be fair Mr Woodcock Friday did not lay the blame at Corbyn's door but he hardly put in a reassuring performance.
So a few thoughts from a Labour Party voter, supporter and party member.
BRexit, Article 50 and immigration
Both Stoke and Copeland voted heavily to leave the European Union in last year's referendum.
Old new Labour
In the last week old new Labour stalwarts, and some would say fat cats, John McTernan, Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson received a great deal of mainstream publicity and it was all about the UK staying part of the EU.
Hardly a vote winner in two BRexit supporting constituencies.
Timing of Article 50 debate
The debate held so close to these two elections drip fed uncertainty about Labour's European intentions. Clive Lewis resigning his shadow cabinet position because of the Article 50 vote was picked up by the mainstream media who ran with it as negative spin.
The two MPs who resigned in Stoke and Copeland
Tristram Hunt and Jamie Reed opted to trigger by elections on the same day. That left the Labour Party defending two constituencies on same day. Both these men were supporters of old new Labour. Both often appeared to be in the wrong political party.
Appointment of election candidates
Other parties were already campaigning on the ground by the time Labour had selected its candidates. They were selected locally which means candidates suit the constituency Labour party but not necessarily the residents.
So the Labour Party needs to fine tune its selection process and speed it up.
Voters need to see a candidate when a campaign starts not just a party. They need to know who wants their votes.
Does UKip have any relevance in 2017?
Paul Nuttall was the candidate that kept on giving in Stoke. He may claim there was a dirty campaign against him but he was shown to be a liar more than once. Having failed to win various elections previously Mr Nuttall must surely be considering his position as a would be MP? He remains an MEP and party leader but for how much longer?
In Copeland the Tory vote was up and UKip vote down. It appears a straight transfer of UKip to Tory helped the Conservative candidate win.
Boundary changes in 2010 brought traditional Tory voters into the Copeland constituency and the Labour majority was cut. This means those quoting old voting history in Copeland forget that is not relevant in 2017.
Further planned boundary changes will continue this trend shoring up the Tory vote. Here in Hull West and Hessle similar changes are planned.
Progressive alliances are back in the room following Thursday's by elections. Some believe it is the only way to beat the Tories in 2017 and beyond.
The labour party needs to:
But when Copeland, an area where the local hospital is under threat, goes blue we need to toughen up and focus as a priority.
WE all need a kick up the bum and the reboot button reset.
By elections are often protest votes against the government. Thursday it seems a majority of voters in Copeland and Stoke expressed they are content with unelected PM Theresa May and her government.
We need to ask them why.
Was it all about BRexit and Sellafield jobs in Copeland?
Op-ed: I rarely watch BBC Parliament these days; since retirement I have the time but not the blood pressure for it.
But on those occasions this woman tunes in however briefly one thing stands out - Ministers spend too much time on cell phones, Ipads and other online devices.
Two images today caught two Tory Ministers who at one point appeared to be texting each other like naughty kids in a school classroom.
This is not a rare occurence or limited to one political party.
Within a few minutes of viewing we spotted a range of MPs using decices offering Internet access.
It could be in some cases they are referencing information but as most MPs still have a mountain of paperwork with them that is a nonsense.
Perhaps Parliament would work better and be less of a public joke if Internet devices were left at the door.
In case it has crossed your mind this woman does not use a cell phone or take her IPad with her when she goes out and that is not only since retirement; it is the norm.
When she goes out the Internet stays home unless she is on vacation for a week or two.
Using such devices in parliament during a debate is many things including silly.
It makes those texting or similar appear distracted rather than paying attention to matters in hand. They often look sloppy as they forget they are on camera. It spreads chinese whispers, gossip and imformation leaks.
Overall it undermines parliament and our democracy.
Six days ahead of two by-elections that are crucial for Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn former Labour Party leader Tony Blair has put in an appearance.
Yes you guessed it right, it has not been aimed at helping the Labour Party win in either Stoke Central or Copeland.
His well publicised speech on mainstream news channels coincides with UKip Stoke candidate Paul Nuttall`s speech Friday.
Both Copeland and Stoke voted for BRexit so either Blair is banking on voters changing their minds or he is up to something entirely different.
One Labour comrade today received the following email from Blair:
The Government’s policy is now Brexit At Any Cost, as those in the driving seat have always wanted. Our task must be to expose relentlessly the cost to the country of rushing over the cliff’s edge.
So fat cat Tony Blair wants your hard-earned money.
You can make of the above what-you-will.
Me I see the rise of the right of Labour finally having scuppered the Labour Party time and again perhaps moving on at last.
With such enemies within who needs outside real enemies?
Blair and his regressive comrades in Progress want old new Labour and cringe at the idea of the Labour Party becoming socialist.
Way past time Blair and his ilk vamoosed
Op-ed: So we pensioners are rolling in money and laughing all the way to the bank are we?
I wonder how many of my retired friends would agree?
In 2001 pensioners were reportedly £70 a week worse off than the working population and now we are £20 a week better off, allegedly.
The Tory triple lock promise on pensions a few years ago helped pensions improve but with a Tory Spring Statement due from Philip Hammond in March that could in theory end.
Former Tory PM David Cameron used the triple lock as a vote winner assuming many older people vote Tory.
But voting and older age is never so simple.
It is not rocket science:
Well just think about it.
If pensions are allowed to fall back it will affect future pensioners.
Once you retire there is no bonus, except £10 at Christmas which could be scrapped, or overtime, but a winter fuel allowance of £200 a couple and a free bus pass, which could also be scrapped. The bus pass helps older people get out and about and stay well in a win win situation for the government
Surely the silly think tank research that declares pensioners are so much better off than the working population is easily dismissed however?
Generalisations never work and neither do averages that include the very wealthy and very poor.
Take for instance MPs who may ultimately decide on pensions and more and be included in the think tank research.
In late 2015 the Telegraph reported "So if the controversial proposals to raise MPs’ wages from £67,060 to £74,000 are effected, all MPs retiring at that higher salary will have their existing entitlements applied at that level. Say an MP has served 15 years (see graphs). The pension builds at a rate of 1/40th of final salary, giving 15/40ths or 37.5pc of final salary."
Read the full report here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/pensions/11685857/MPs-hidden-perk-7000-pay-rise-equals-85000-pension-boost.html
Out of four reasons cited by Wales Online for the reported "£20 better off" three will not be available to all. They are home ownership, at least one person in a couple working and a company pension.
"The share of pensioner households in which at least one person is in work has shot up from one in eight in 2001 to nearly one in five. This accounts for a quarter of pensioner income growth since 2000."
Yes work till you drop Britain at least for we the people is the goal.
New pensions bad news for many pensioners
Pensions safe from Tory axe for now but for how much longer
If you believe the media hype the Labour Party is in danger of imploding; they suggest that if the Labour Party fails to win seats it will lose its power-base and become something of a minor player in British politics.
But our political system needs a political party of the left. Just how far over to the left of politics is debatable but we certainly have too many right-wing political parties already.
The Lib Dems are way over to the right of politics though they try to present themselves as more centrist. But never forget they sat alongside a slashing Tory government for five years. A government that slashed budgets using austerity as an excuse but that was a lie.
At the end of the coalition's time in office the country's debt had increased.
The rise of UKip has also hit Labour heartlands but was that simply an EU issue?
Now that the UK is leaving the European Union will some floating voters drift back to the Labour Party?
In truth it could be UKip that is about to implode post the EU referendum.
One thing we should never forget is that UKip is an alternative Conservative Party as right-wing as they come. Stacked to the rafters with Tories who jumped ship a Tory government with a UKip opposition would be a one-party State and a right-wing one at that.
Farage talked the talk and so does his successor Paul Nuttall but do they walk the walk?
In the run up to the May 2014 European elections we asked can you trust Ukip and concluded NO.
Fast forward to 2017 and they are as untrustworthy as ever.
Ahead of the May 2014 elections Sky News revealed the results of a poll which indicated that voters were switching to UKIP as they did not trust mainstream political parties in the UK.
Polls are a bit of a mixed bag as so much depends on how many people took part, the cross section of pollsters and how many participants took the poll seriously but UKip were fairly successful in the May EU elections. It did not translate to general election wins in 2015 but enough success to weaken the Labour vote.
But all that aside this writer wonders what makes disillusioned voters think that they can trust UKIP?
Yes mainstream political parties have a poor track record on some issues but you can never please all of the people all of the time.
We all know that Tory PM David Cameron barely opened his mouth without uttering a lie and that too many political parties have been touched by sleaze following the expenses scandal but what makes people feel that UKIP are any different?
Voters can probably trust UKIP to bring back hunting, privatise the NHS and maybe even overturn the smoking ban but what about the many other issues?
It's ironic that those turning to UKIP as a trustworthy party ignore the fact that people such as Neil and Christine Hamilton are now Ukip supporters. Neil is actually a UKip MP.
Remember this political married couple, turned celebrity appearing in Christmas pantomimes in the UK, and we do not mean Parliament? Mostyn Neil Hamilton became involved in a political scandal known as the cash-for-questions affair, and temporarily quit politics before joining forces with Ukip.
Ultimately, as Ukip became a recognised political party, rather than just a bunch of fruitcakes, to quote David Cameron, party leader Nigel Farage cleared out embarrassments to UKIP and the Hamiltons were moved on.
The Guardian reported in 2014 "Hamilton has been dropped as Ukip's campaigns director. With questions having been raised about Nigel Farage's use of EU allowances over the past few weeks – allegations that Farage calls "outrageous" – an Observer report suggests that Hamilton's demotion stems from fears his reputation might leave Ukip vulnerable to sleaze allegations.
There's also the small matter of Hamilton's comments about the party's main donor, Paul Sykes, at Ukip's conference in February. "So far, we haven't seen the colour of his money," he told the Observer."
Hardly reassuring as the Hamilton's are now part of UKIP.
"Ukip Is Party For 'Decent BNP Supporters', said Deputy Chair Neil Hamilton" before his earlier demise.
UKIP trusters also forget that disillusioned Tory MPS are part of UKIP and swelling its number of candidates. That means those politicians that they do not trust, form part of a party which they choose to trust.
Confused? You and me both.
Farage previously advised Ukip supporters to vote Tory in constituencies where Ukip have no chance of winning calling it tactical voting but as he was a Tory before parting company on a disagreement over Europe he is just reinforcing the view that Ukip is the alternative Tory party of the UK.
Farage was the so-called intelligent and personable front of Ukip but there were many who believed he simply made up many of his "facts".
Remember his BRexit cash for the NHS promises?
His successor Paul Nuttall is now standing in the Stoke Central byelection but he also appears to be economical with the truth.
So without labouring the point, no pun intended, why would any potential voter feel Ukip is trustworthy as opposed to the other mainstream political parties?
Sources and related reading:
Op-ed; Paul Nuttall UKip party leader is standing in the Stoke Central by-election on February 23.
He is already leader of a political party and an MEP but he plans to keep all three roles if he is elected to represent Stoke Central.
Mr Nuttall is already facing accusations of lying and Saturday there could be more getting thrown into the mix.
When Nuttall officially declared his intention to stand in the Stoke Central byelection his place of residence was not in the constituency.
Channel 4's news bloodhound Michael Crick caught up with Nuttall as he was moving into a property in Stoke. This meant as Crick pointed out that Nuttall had falsely declared an address on his election papers.
Saturday the Guardian is reporting Nuttall has had to move out of that property having allegedly received hate mail, two attempted break ins at the property and people trying to take photos through the windows.
All of those allegations may or may not be true.
If they are true and it is not more UKip fake news "who done it" matters.
Was it an "inside job" or two or rather UKip election tactics?
The upshot is that Nuttall has "had to" move out. The returning officer for the byelection has been informed of the move but Nuttall should still be under investigation for his original false address declaration.
Whether he had actually ever moved in is debatable.
He claims those in the media who published his new Stoke address are in part to blame.
UKip may now try for some political opportunism on the campaign trail in Stoke.
But Mr Nuttall is spinning a tangled web of deceit.
Saturday there are also allegations that he lied about being at the tragic Hillsborough football match of 1989.
Nuttall has previously supported privatisation of the NHS though prefers now to say he has changed his mind.
So can you trust Paul Nuttall?
One word springs to mind - NO.
Paul Nuttall moved house over safety fears, says UKip
Ukip leader Paul Nuttall denies lying about being at Hillsborough disaster
Paul Nuttall UKip party leader and Stoke Central candidate
Paul Nuttall like Trump backs waterboarding
Op-ed; Has there ever been a more divisive POTUS than Donald Trump?
Could be but social media is adding to negtaive news about Trump's presidency which is only three weeks in.
Desperate Theresa May was quick to visit Trump at the White House with some citing BRexit as the reason for her hasty visit and range of promises.
BRexit takes the rap for many things but if and when the UK leaves the European Union it will need trade deals and friendly relations with the USA more than ever.
Still did Theresa May have to commit to a costly UK state visit for Trump so soon into his presidency?
This week House of Commons Speaker John Bercow was in trouble with the Tory government for speaking out on Trump.
The Commons Speaker is supposed to be neutral but he chose to express his strong feelings about the visit in the respect that it would include Trump addressing both Houses of British Parliament.
Bercow is expected to sign off such events at Westminster and it is clear this time he will not play ball.
Timing is important in so many things and that includes this proposed state visit. Friday the Guardian reports;
The government has abandoned the idea of Donald Trump addressing the joint Houses of Parliament when he comes to Britain for a state visit later this year after objections by MPs led by the Commons Speaker John Bercow.
Pres. Trump could yet surprise us all and be a roaring political success but this woman is not holding her breath.
If unelected Prime Minister Theresa May had waited she may have been able to make an informed decision on a Trump UK visit.
Instead the UK now appears committed to welcoming the Trumps.
It will be a costly visit that is bound to include a great deal of security. But the President will bring his own mass of security and they are sure to be armed and dangerous. British gun laws will not be respected.
Trump not being welcomed into parliament is a good move but what about his state visit?
A petition with more than 1.8 million signatures asking the British government to "Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the United Kingdom" is due to be debated February 20 but it seems the outcome is already decided.
But at least it looks like he will be denied addressing Westminster.