Yes, the CPS has bottled it. Tories who were implicated in election fraud are opening their bottles of bubbly right now.
I wrote yesterday that this matter would should whether the CPS served justice or the Conservative Party. Well, we found out, didn’t we?
The organisation’s statement, from Nick Vamos, head of special crime, said it was impossible to prove to the criminal standard that any candidate or agent was dishonest – meaning police could not prove that any candidate or agent made a false declaration.
It goes on to say it is a technical offence for an election agent to fail to deliver a true return and, by omitting any ‘Battle Bus’ costs, the returns may have been inaccurate.
But we are told, “It is clear agents were told by Conservative Party headquarters that the costs were part of the national campaign and it would not be possible to prove any agent acted knowingly or dishonestly.”
Told by Conservative Party headquarters?
That indicates clearly that none of these people bothered to check the legal requirements under which they were campaigning in 2015, and all were misled by their party leaders.
So the obvious question to ask is: Who misled these candidates and agents? And when will they be prosecuted?
My guess is that the answer to the second question is, when Hell freezes over.
The police and the CPS have dragged their feet over this matter since it was first reported. They wanted nothing to do with it.
I leave it to you to judge the reasons.
In terms of the general election, the decision means the candidates who had been under suspicion, who were successful in 2015, and all the agents involved, may continue campaigning to retain their seats on June 8.
But as voters, you need to ask yourself if the Conservative Party’s behaviour met the standard to be expected of a party of government.
Is it acceptable that Conservative Central HQ apparently failed to tell candidates and agents how to fill out their expenses forms properly?
Is it acceptable that, it seems, they never bothered to check the legal requirements themselves?
Is it acceptable that this legal loophole has allowed privilege to beat justice?
Will it be acceptable for the perpetrators to win another election – possibly by behaving in exactly the same way?
No, it isn’t.
One last thought:
If the Tories implicated in the election expenses fraud investigation are innocent because they didn’t know they were making inaccurate claims, that means they are incompetent and unfit for public office.
Here’s the CPS statement in all its rotten detail:
We have considered files of evidence from 14 police forces in respect of allegations relating to Conservative Party candidates’ expenditure during the 2015 General Election campaign.
We considered whether candidates and election agents working in constituencies that were visited by the Party’s ‘Battle Bus’ may have committed a criminal offence by not declaring related expenditure on their local returns. Instead, as the Electoral Commission found in its report, these costs were recorded as national expenditure by the Party.
We reviewed the files in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and have concluded the tests in the Code are not met and no criminal charges have been authorised.
Under the Representation of the People Act, every candidate and agent must sign a declaration on the expenses return that to the best of their knowledge and belief it is a complete and correct return as required by law. It is an offence to knowingly make a false declaration. In order to bring a charge, it must be proved that a suspect knew the return was inaccurate and acted dishonestly in signing the declaration. Although there is evidence to suggest the returns may have been inaccurate, there is insufficient evidence to prove to the criminal standard that any candidate or agent was dishonest.
The Act also makes it a technical offence for an election agent to fail to deliver a true return. By omitting any ‘Battle Bus’ costs, the returns may have been inaccurate. However, it is clear agents were told by Conservative Party headquarters that the costs were part of the national campaign and it would not be possible to prove any agent acted knowingly or dishonestly. Therefore we have concluded it is not in the public interest to charge anyone referred to us with this offence.
Our evaluation of the evidence is consistent with that of the Electoral Commission. While the role of the Commission is to regulate political finances and campaign spending, the role of the CPS is to consider whether any individual should face criminal charges, which is a different matter with different consideration and tests.
One file, from Kent Police, was only recently received by the CPS, and remains under consideration. No inference as to whether any criminal charge may or may not be authorised in relation to this file should be drawn from this fact and we will announce our decision as soon as possible once we have considered the evidence in this matter.
Join the Vox Political Facebook page.
If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!
Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:
Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.
The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here: