Tory MP will be tried by jury over election fraud charges

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Jul 05, 2017
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Craig Mackinlay denies knowingly completing his election expenses returns falsely

Niklas Halle'N/AFP/Getty Images

A Conservative MP will face a jury trial over allegations of corruption regarding his expenses during the 2015 election campaign (John Simpson writes).

Craig Mackinlay appeared at Westminster magistrates court yesterday charged with electoral fraud relating to the Tory party battle bus and staff shipped in to help him defeat Nigel Farage, leader of Ukip at the time, in the Kent seat of South Thanet. The charges relate in part to allegedly undeclared expenditure on hotel accommodation for staff brought in from Conservative party headquarters.

Mackinlay, 50, will be tried alongside Nathan Gray, his election agent, and Marion Little, a party official and campaign specialist. The sitting MP denies two charges of knowingly completing his election expenses returns falsely.

Gray, 28, denies two charges of failing to deliver a true election expenses return and one of knowingly making a false declaration, while Little, 62, denies two charges of aiding and abetting Mackinlay and one charge of aiding and abetting Gray.

All three are accused under the Representation of the People Act 1983, which carry a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison. The law regarding election expenses states that services or facilities donated to a campaign should be costed and included in the return as “notional expenditure”, which the crown claims the trio knowingly neglected to do.

All three defendants were released on unconditional bail ahead of their next appearance at Southwark crown court in London on August 1.

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