Theresa May has wrongly claimed that Tory candidates investigated over election expenses had “properly reported” all campaign spending.
Scrapbook reported earlier that the Crown Prosecution Service had found “insufficient evidence” to bring criminal charges against 30 Tory MPs and their agents over the election expenses scandal.
Asked about the decision by a journalist at her latest campaign event, May said:
“After full and lengthy investigation, the legal authorities have confirmed what we believed all along and what we said all along, which was the expenses…that local spending was properly reported, was properly declared and that the candidates had done nothing wrong.”
But she the CPS did not say that “local spending was properly reported”. Their statement said that “there is evidence to suggest the returns may have been inaccurate” but added there is “insufficient evidence to prove to the criminal standard that any candidate or agent was dishonest.”
The vast difference in these positions was pointed out to the Prime Minister by Sky News political editor Faisal Islam, who read out the relevant part of the CPS statement. Despite that, May repeated her claim, saying:
“We have always reported expenses according to the rules. What the CPS found very clearly in those cases that they looked at, in local constituencies, was the local spending had been properly recorded, the candidates had done nothing wrong.”
That also contradicts the conclusions of the Electoral Commission investigation, which found money was “put into the Party’s return when it was candidate spending in a number of constituencies where the Party spent money promoting individual candidates.”
And in it’s response to the CPS decision today, the Commission made clear:
“The evaluation set out by the Crown Prosecution Service in today’s announcement is consistent with that of the Commission, which concluded that the Conservative party’s spending return was incomplete and inaccurate, as it contained spending that should have been included in the candidates’ returns.”
Now the CPS’ statement about the improper reporting of election expenses is being improperly reported….