Tory MP Craig Mackinlay has been cleared of breaking expenses rules in the 2015 general election.
Party worker Marion Little carried the can for falsifying election expenses instead.
She was said to have been “carried away by her conviction” that the party must defeat Nigel Farage in the 2015 general election. A jury at Southwark Crown Court found her guilty of two counts of intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007 – but acquitted her of a third count of the same offence.
She was given a nine-month suspended sentence and fined £5,000.
Mr Mackinlay had been accused of failing to declare spending of up to £66,600 – which would have meant he had spent more than double the legal limit – a strict £52,000.
His election agent Nathan Gray, 29, from Hawkhurst, Kent, was earlier acquitted of making a false election expenses declaration.
Sentencing Little, the judge Mr Justice Edis accused Conservative party headquarters of “a culture of convenient self-deception” and “inadequate supervision” which allowed Little to break the law.
Mr Edis said Little falsified documents then presented them to Mackinlay and his election agent Nathan Gray for signing, which “they did so in good faith not knowing what she had done”.
The judge said she was “carried away by her conviction” that defeating Farage was an “overwhelmingly important political objective”.
So there y’go. The Tories had inadequate supervision which allowed them to deceive themselves, signing false documents in good faith. Okay?
And now the police have passed a file on alleged expenses irregularities by This Writer’s MP, Chris Davies, to the Crown Prosecution Service.
It seems he was solely responsible for handling expenses of this kind and is claiming he made an “honest mistake” in claiming for furniture and pictures to decorate his constituency office. Some of us might question why he needed to buy decorations using money from the public purse.
Mr Davies is accused of manually creating two invoices for £450 and £250 rather than submitting the full £700 claim for the pictures by computer.
He has previously said that he repaid the £450 sum, which was charged to a start-up fund for new MPs to set up offices.
Will the court agree, or find that he has done enough to make amends for his “honest mistake”?
But one thing is clear: People are getting tired of hearing about alleged expenses irregularities connected to the Conservative Party.
If these people can’t keep their books properly, they’ve got no business being in elected office.
And certainly no business running a nation’s economy.
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