Tories fail to block police probe into election fraud allegations in Thanet South

A judge has granted police more time to investigate Conservative expenses in the Kent constituency during the general election.

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The Conservative MP for Thanet South has failed in his bid to stop police investigating claims that his party broke election spending rules in the constituency.

A judge has granted police more time to investigate Tory election expenses in the seat, saying there was, “very significant public interest in the matter being fully investigated”, as reported on KentOnline.

Kent police will now have a year’s extension to look into allegations that the party’s spending in the constituency during the general election campaign exceeded the legal limit.

The judge even warned that, in the event of a conviction, there would be “potential for election results being declared void”.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage was fighting to win the marginal seat of Thanet South ahead of the general election, which made it a high-profile target for Conservative campaigning.

Thanet South is just one of over 20 seats under scrutiny following claims of illegal overspending, but it is the only one where the sitting MP has tried to block an investigation. Craig Mackinlay MP and his election agent launched a legal bid to argue that police should not be granted the required time extension to look into the case. This was swiftly overruled by Folkestone Magistrates Court.

If criminal activity is found in Thanet South and other seats hit by similar accusations, numerous by-elections could be triggered across the country. Such an outcome could even threaten to wipe out the Tory majority.

If you want to know more about the Tory election fraud allegations story, and why we haven’t heard much about it from the media, here’s my explanation.

Anoosh Chakelian is the New Statesman’s Britain editor.

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