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6 May, 2016 11:18

Police probe into alleged Tory general election fraud launched

Police probe into alleged Tory general election fraud launched

Allegations of electoral fraud committed by the Conservative Party ahead of the 2015 general election are being investigated by police. The party has been accused of violating key spending regulations.

The probe was sparked by a complaint made to Gloucestershire Police, the source of which has not been disclosed.

"We have received an allegation of electoral fraud and an investigation has been launched," a spokeswoman for Gloucestershire Police told RT.

"We are considering an application for extension on time to investigate. This is in relation to the 2015 general election."

So far it’s not been made public how many constituencies the complaint relates to or where they lie.

The Conservative Party faces allegations that accommodation bills for campaigners who traveled on specially designated buses across Britain should have fallen under the spending limits applied to individual parliamentary candidates, rather than the party’s overall national campaign budget.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) raised deep concerns over the alleged spending breaches in the House of Commons on Thursday. The party’s lead spokesman, Pete Wishart, who is MP for Perth & North Perthshire, called on ministers to release “an urgent statement.”

"Surely we must now hear what the government's view on this is and there must be no whiff or suggestion that this government cheated its way to power," he said.

Wishart branded the allegations “absolutely extraordinary,” saying they focus on a total of 28 Tory candidates who failed to officially register the use of a ‘battle bus’ for regional campaigning and up to £38,000 (US$55,00) in accommodation costs for local campaign work.

"If anybody's found guilty of such a charge it could result in one year imprisonment and an unlimited fine,” he said.

The Conservative Party maintains its failure to register election costs was merely down to an “administrative error.”

Prime Minister David Cameron has defended his party’s conduct, saying it was legitimate to file such expenditure under the national campaign.

The probe into alleged electoral fraud follows a meeting between Britain’s Electoral Commission, prosecutors and police on Wednesday held to ensure enough time is ring-fenced to launch criminal investigations should sufficient evidence be uncovered to warrant them.

A separate Commission probe into alleged violations during the media coverage of the 2015 general election will span another four weeks, pushing it beyond the 12-month timespan given before criminal proceedings are blocked.