Seven police forces have launched investigations into Conservative MPs for possible election fraud, acting on evidence revealed by Channel 4 News.
The probes are understood to be looking at election expenses of ten sitting MPs, so far.
The investigations centre on whether costs to transport and accommodate bus-loads of Tory activists to marginal seats should have been declared by candidates.
It follows a four month investigation by Channel 4 News into campaign spending by the Conservative Party in last year’s General Election and three key by-elections.
One force, Greater Manchester Police, confirmed it had already been granted an extensions by the courts to extend the one-year time limit for prosecutions under election law.
A further three forces said they would be doing the same in coming weeks.
Last night legal experts said it is the first time in British history that extensions had been sought to time limits for prosecutions under election law, and showed the scale of the operation.
One of Britain’s leading election lawyers Gavin Millar QC, of Matrix Chambers said: “We haven’t seen a case like this before – where a group of police forces have used this power.
“I don’t know of a case where it’s been used even in a single case.
“But the idea of a group of police forces coming together to coordinate an investigation – and each one getting the extension of time to look into the election in their area is unheard of.
“And it means that they are taking seriously as police service the issues that were raised by the original Channel 4 News report, and the issues that people like me have been worried about for a long time about malpractice in marginal seats involving the major political parties in terms of how they spend and what they’re prepared to admit having spent.”
The forces that have confirmed they are investigating are Devon and Cornwall, Cheshire, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester Police, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, and Staffordshire.
The MPs we understand are being looked at are Amanda Milling, for Cannock Chase; Michael Ellis for Northampton North; Stuart Andrew for Pudsey, Horsforth & Aireborough; David Nuttall for Bury North; North Cornwall for Scott Mann; George Eustace for Cambourne and Redruth; Kevin Foster for Torbay; Oliver Colville for Plymouth Sutton and Devenport; and Graham Evans for Weaver Vale.
Gloucestershire Police has not said whether their investigation is looking at Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk or Stroud MP Neil Carmichael.
So far, the Channel 4 News investigation has found almost £200,000 of seemingly undeclared election expenses in 33 constituency elections carried out in 2014 and 2015.
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