Quick recap: This Writer contacted Dyfed Powys Police, on advice from the Electoral Commission, to request an investigation into possible electoral expenses fraud by Brecon and Radnorshire’s new Conservative MP Chris Davies.
He had not declared a four-page wraparound advert in the local Brecon and Radnor Express newspaper as a local expense. The advert would have cost £14,000 – more than his entire permitted spending during the regulated period known as the Short Campaign.
Nor had he declared any amount relating to the visit of David Cameron and his battle bus to Builth Wells and Newbridge-on-Wye on April 17, 2015. The presence of Mr Cameron, campaigning in the constituency (and probably mentioning Mr Davies by name, as he is on record doing for other candidates in other constituencies) would certainly have had a beneficial effect on Mr Davies and in these circumstances the Electoral Commission advises that the cost should be split between national expenditure and the local candidate.
Last Thursday (May 26), an officer named Paul Callard responded to my complaint, saying he had discussed the matter with the Electoral Commission and found there was no case to answer. This seemed odd to me. I could not understand why the Electoral Commission would pass me on to the police and then tell the police there was no substance to what I was saying.
So I contacted the Electoral Commission and asked for confirmation that Mr Callard had spoken to a representative, and for details of the conversation.
Today I received an email from a representative of Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llewelyn. He wrote:
“Your concerns that there may have been impropriety in electoral campaign spending are certainly valid. Having looked into this matter further however, I have found out that the Police are not the appropriate authority to deal with any potential breaches of the rules for political spending. The Electoral Commission regulate this area and have enforcement powers to investigate any alleged breaches and impose sanctions.”
Confused? I was. He continued:
“I appreciate recent media reports stating that police forces in England and Wales are investigating electoral expenses may have given the wrong impression, causing confusion over where the remit lies. The forces investigating these claims are doing so after being called in by the Electoral Commission. The reason for the Commission doing this was due to its concerns, it would not be able to obtain all the information it needed before the deadline for taking action passed. In order for Dyfed Powys Police to have had a role in these investigations, a request would have had to come from the Electoral Commission.
“It does cause me concern that someone in the Electoral Commission has informed you this is a matter for Dyfed Powys Police. If you can provide me with the details of who you spoke to or corresponded with I would greatly appreciate it as I feel that it may be useful for me to discuss this matter further with that individual.”
I was happy to do so.
Can you guess what this means?
It means I am now in the farcical situation of having the Electoral Commission investigating the police, and the police investigating the Electoral Commission.
Nothing is happening about Chris Davies and time is ticking away.
What a ridiculous mess.
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