Tories accused of electoral fraud over online advertising – but it is far too late to prosecute

It is too late to do anything about these new electoral fraud allegations – other than be vigilant for similar dirty dealings in any future election campaigns.

Considering the amount of time and effort it took to get police forces across the UK to begin the currently-ongoing investigations into electoral fraud by a ruling political party, it would be wise to make a note of every piece of campaign material put out by every candidate in the future – and then check it against spending returns as they are filed, not more than a month after the polling date.

It is painstaking work, but it seems clear that Conservatives like Ms Rudd and Mr Mills may have been taking advantage of the fact that nobody has been keen to take it on in the past. They must all be discouraged from doing so in the future.

Just think – if Amber Rudd had been caught breaking electoral rules at the appropriate time, she would not have been able to cancel the ‘Dubs amendment’ refugee scheme.

In fact, if enough Tories had been caught overspending immediately after the election – there might not now be a Conservative government making these nasty decisions.

But as matters stand, police investigators have until May 9 to take action on the fraud allegations that they are investigating.

Tory MPs are facing fresh allegations of electoral fraud after apparently failing to declare the costs of negative campaign ads.

At least two Conservative candidates used online adverts designed by M&C Saatchi but failed to mention them in their general election spending returns.

The Tories paid £395,575 to M&C Saatchi for advertising costs in the run up to poll last May, including one “wrecking ball” advert.

The poster and video ad used the slogan “Recovering Economy” and a wrecking ball carrying the words “Don’t Let Labour Wreck It”.

These costs were declared nationally as party spending where the Tories were more than £2 million below the spending cap.

But Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy, ran what appeared to be a local version of the same advert on her YouTube channel on March 29. The slogan was changed to “Unemployment down by 1,921 in Hastings and Rye since 2010”.

It was uploaded on March 29, the last day of the “long campaign”, but does not appear in Ms Rudd’s long campaign election spending return.

Under “advertising”, the only online costs declared were a series of Facebook ads and one £60 bill to her local conservative association for a “pop up banner”.

More than a year has passed since Ms Rudd filed her return which means that she can no longer be punished under the act.

Another Tory MP, Nigel Mills, posted what appeared to be a local version of the “wrecking ball” ad with the slogan changed to “Unemployment down by 59% in Amber Valley since 2010” [in similar circumstances].

Source: Tory MPs face new electoral fraud allegations after failing to declare online advertising costs

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10 thoughts on “Tories accused of electoral fraud over online advertising – but it is far too late to prosecute

  1. gfranklinpercival

    It was widely reported on that on 1 June 2016 a further 12 months had been given to to police to investigate alleged fraud in the election of Craig McKinley as MP for South Thanet, by District Judge Barron. This is not easily reconciled with the meme at the head of this page.

    In any case, the time permitted for investigation starts to run from the date of filing of the candidate’s expense return, does it not?

    I may be wrong in this. Perhaps you would do well to seek the advice of Alison Hernandez, the tory Police and Crime Commissioner, currently under investigation for her own alleged part in the fraud, by another force, of course.

  2. NMac

    It might be a much more simple task to find what is not fraudulent about the Tory Party. They have become a byword for blatant fraud and devious cheating.

  3. casalealex

    More than a year has passed since Ms Rudd filed her return which means that she can no longer be punished under the act.

    If we would learn what the human race really is at bottom, we need only observe it in election times.” ― Mark Twain

    The Tories just don’t care, and they don’t even care that we know they don’t care!

  4. Damien Willey

    Just as an idea to a potential follow up article – how do you go about investigating expenses claims? How do you check the expenses filed after a poster or election campaign? What do you need to look for on the returns? If more of us knew what to do, more of us would be likely to do it. Educate us Mike.

  5. Roland Laycock

    As I have said many times the police and legal system is in total control of the Tories take a look at Orgreave, look at the elite pedophiles the list goes on and on

  6. Dave Rowlands

    The “Time Limit” clause needs to be gotten rid of, why is it only politicians are protected by these rules?

  7. Dez

    If the police have only until May of this year to look into the Cons electoral spending
    then the Plods will certainly fail at the snail pace they are currently working. Why did they not start with the Cons instead of chasing the Labour and Libs first as the consequences of misdeeds should be more catastrophic politically if found guilty.

  8. Barry Davies

    They appear to have got away with cameron overspending on the remain campaign as well, claiming the misleading true facts was government sponsored (mis)information not part of the campaign.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      The Electoral Commission is examining spending on both sides of the referendum campaign.

Comments are closed.