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Conservative candidate for South Thanet charged over expense claims


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Craig Mackinlay, the Conservative candidate for South Thanet in the upcoming election, has been charged for alleged overspending in his previous 2015 general election campaign.

Craig Mackinlay during the 2015 general election campaign

The same charges, which fall under the 1983 Representation of the People Act, are also brought against Mackinlay's election agent, Nathan Gray, and Conservative party activist Marion Little.

All three are subsequently due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 4th July 2017.

The charges follow a police investigation over whether the costs of battle bus visits to constituencies as undertaken during the 2015 election campaign should have been filed under local or national expenses. 

Nick Vamos, CPS head of special crime, issued a statement that following evidence received from Kent police the investigation "concluded there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to authorise charges against [these] three people."

However, The Conservative Party maintain that such allegations were unfounded and claim that as the campaigns occurred "across the country for the return of a Conservative government" and as such any costs should be regarded as national expenditure.

A spokesperson added that the "candidate has made clear that there was no intention by him or his campaigners to engage in any inappropriate activity" and that this would be proven in court.

In electoral terms the charges against Mr Mackinlay will have very little effect as he will still stand and if he were to win he would also be able to take his seat like any other MP.

Indeed, although The Conservative Party could theoretically decide to withdraw their support leaving him to run as an Independent, this is reportedly unlikely.

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