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Conservatives face election probe over Work and Pensions committee MP

CMackinlay

The Conservative Party is facing an investigation by the Electoral Commission over its campaign spending in South Thanet, where Craig Mackinlay defeated Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

Mackinlay won the seat in May, securing a majority of 2,812, and subsequently joined Frank Field’s Work and Pensions committee.

Since then, he has become a regular contributor to debates on auto-enrolment, inheritance tax and pensions reform, most recently calling for a £10,000 limit on salary sacrifice.

However, the Electoral Commission has now revealed that it has opened an investigation into the Conservative’s spending in the constituency.

In particular, the Commission says it will investigate whether spending on hotel stays in Margate and Ramsgate should have been counted as national campaign spending, or fallen under local campaign spending limits.

Candidates were limited to spending £15,016 per constituency as part of the short campaign, which this year ran from April 7 to May 7.

However, reports from Channel 4 last month claimed the Conservatives had racked up more than £14,000 in hotel bills alone, and allocated the spending to national accounts.

A Conservative spokesperson says: “All spending has been correctly recorded in accordance with the law.”

Kent Police, which is responsible for investigating breaches of the law relating to candidate spending, has announced it will not pursue a probe into the claims.

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