£70,000 election expenses fine for Tories

The Electoral Commission has fined the Conservative Party £70,000 for ‘numerous failures’ in reporting spending on three by-elections in 2014 and the 2015 General Election.

The party, who have admitted to an ‘administrative error’ last March, missed payments of £104,765 in its 2015 UK Parliamentary general election spending return, while a further £118,124 was either incorrectly reported by the party or not reported to the commission at all.

Additionally, the party did not include the required invoices or receipts for 81 payments to the value of £52,924, and failed o maintain records explaining the amounts it invoiced to candidates in three 2014 by-elections, for work on their campaigns.

Sir John Holmes, chair of the Electoral Commission, claimed that it is the third investigation that the commission has concluded recently where the largest political parties have failed to report up to six figure sums following major elections.

He said: "Our investigation uncovered numerous failures by a large, well-resourced and experienced party to ensure that accurate records of spending were maintained and that all of the party's spending was reported correctly.

"The rules established by parliament for political parties and their finances are there to ensure transparency and accountability. Where the rules are not followed, it undermines voters' confidence in our democratic processes, which is why political parties need to take their responsibilities under the legislation seriously."

A Conservative spokesman said: “This investigation and these fines relate to national spending by CCHQ, and the Conservative Party's national spending return for the 2015 general election. CCHQ accepted in March 2016 that it had made an administrative error by not declaring a small amount constituting 0.6 per cent of our national spending in the 2015 election campaign.

“Political parties of all colours have made reporting mistakes from time to time... this is the first time the Conservative Party has been fined for a reporting error. We regret that and will continue to keep our internal processes under review to ensure this does not happen again.”

Event Diary

The annual Digital Government conference will be returning to the QEII Centre, London on Thursday 24th May.

On the 16th & 17th of May, UK’s most ambitious SME owners, startup owners, creative leaders and decision makers will take part in what is being Europe’s largest business event.