Op-ed: In the UK election spending is strictly controlled.
If you and your campaign managers overspend criminal charges can follow.
In 2016 as the UK geared up for local council and PCC elections, and London gets set to elect a new mayor, the Tory party was in the corruption spotlight.
They failed to answer allegations of serious overspending which in theory could and should put their place in government into question.
With a slim majority the Conservative party is in a precarious position.
In 2016 26 Tory MPS were under investigation for electoral fraud by the Electoral Commission in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service; more MPs than the Tory majority.
The story appears to have died a death but the investigation rolls on.
The deadline now appears to be May 9, 2017.
So time is tight and now seems a good time to get this news back out there.
In April 2016 we reported "Allegations of election overspending look set to undermine the legitimacy of the UK Tory government but will allegations be explained away?"
Once again Channel 4 news was at the heart of allegations against the Conservative party; little wonder the government is looking at curbing Channel 4.
Early in 2015 C4 reported on the story of David Cameron's fathers' links to an off shore tax haven following it up a few months later with "George Osborne family business' £6m offshore deal"; in 2016 it has been a series of revelations that appear to indicate the Tory Party did not play fair during the 2015 General Election campaign."
In November 2015 the Mail Online claimed Channel 4 could be sold off to raise £1billion adding David Cameron confirms ministers are 'looking at all the options' for the station."
Cameron was quick to insist he was a huge fan of Channel 4 harking back to its origins; he may however not like the direction its news service is now taking.
Channel 4 investigators have uncovered a series of overspends by the Tory party during its successful 2015 General Election campaign; a lot depends on what was local spending and what national.
Channel 4 News "obtained further undeclared receipts showing more than £38,000 was spent accommodating activists at hotels across the country, as part of the BattleBus2015 campaign. The spending was not declared to the Electoral Commission in accordance with the law. The investigation has also obtained evidence that the BattleBus campaign was focused on local candidates, suggesting the accommodation costs incurred should have been declared on local candidate spending returns, if so this could constitute a criminal offence."
The Conservative party claims administrative errors or should that be incompetence? Some however will suspect purposeful wrongdoing in order to win an election at any price.
And although the Conservative party and others may try to dismiss the allegations selective overspending at elections is a criminal offence.
The typical Tory method of firstly denying allegations and then back pedalling somewhat should not save them this time, assuming the Electoral Commission and our political system is fit for purpose.
Ultimately the Conservative Party confirmed to Channel 4 News that it had failed to declare the costs related to the Battlebus hotels due to what it described as an "administrative error" despite previously stating that all of the party's returns were accurate.
While in many ways it matters whether the extra costs were actually an administrative error or the Tories flouting the rules to get their way back into government either way it looks like they have broken the law.
Will the Conservative Party run true to form trying to dig up election spending inconsistencies across parties and maybe even reforming the electoral commission and its rules to suit?
In 2016 they employed 'smear' tactics against senior members of the Labour Party helped on by some in the party and mainstream media so inclined as distraction politics.
The Electoral Commission has strict rules about election spending but does it have any teeth when it comes to wrongdoing?
"The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. It regulates party and election finance and sets standards for well-run elections. The Commission is independent of Government and answerable to Parliament" but is it?
Channel 4 News's Political Correspondent Michael Crick has spent more than three months investigating Conservative Party expenses in 2014 and 2015.
You can read how the investigation has proceeded at ElectionExpenses.co.uk.
Tories accused of disregarding election spending law
Will Electoral Commission prosecute Tory Party?
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