The Conservative party’s Craig Mackinlay, right, reacts after winning the South Thanet seat ahead of Nigel Farage, left [Image: Matt Dunham/AP].

How interesting – after it was reported that the Conservatives had exceeded spending limits in three by-elections, the Electoral Commission has announced it is investigating the party over its spending in the general election as well.

The investigation into Tory spending in South Thanet, which that party secured in last May’s poll, is notable because – as in the three by-elections – the main challenger was a candidate from UKIP. In this particular case, it was UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

It seems there is no point in investigating the three by-elections as the deadline before which any such inquiry should have taken place has passed and the police would be unable to prosecute. How fortunate for the Conservative Party!

A verdict against the Tories in this case will at least lead some to ask why they have been so desperate to keep UKIP out of Parliament.

The Conservatives are under investigation by the electoral watchdog over allegations they falsely reported their campaign spending in South Thanet, where the party stopped Ukip leader Nigel Farage winning a parliamentary seat in May.

The Electoral Commission announced it was opening an investigation into the party’s whole spending return at the 2015 general election after a report on Channel 4 News alleged they exceeded local spending limits.

Kent police have declined to investigate the allegations but the Electoral Commission’s decision to investigate may prompt law enforcement authorities to take it more seriously.

In a significant move, the Electoral Commission took the opportunity to remind Kent police that there is a year’s time limit on their ability to investigate relevant criminal offences under electoral law.

Source: Conservative party under investigation over South Thanet campaign | Politics | The Guardian

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