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Craig Mackinlay is interviewed under police caution





Craig Mackinlay is interviewed under police caution Craig Mackinlay
  • Kent Police  quizzed Craig Mackinlay for six hours on Friday, it has emerged 
  • The Thanet South campaign is being examined over alleged election expenses 
  • The Conservative Party said it was cooperating with ongoing investigations 

 

Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay has been questioned by Kent Police for six hours over allegations he broke election law Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay has been questioned by Kent Police for six hours over allegations he broke election law

Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay has been questioned by Kent Police for six hours over allegations he broke election law

The Conservative party was thrown into crisis last night as the election expenses scandal took a series of dramatic twists.

First, it was alleged the Tory MP who beat Nigel Farage in a constituency at the centre of the row was questioned by police for six hours.

Then, details emerged of an explosive argument between Tory MPs and the party's central office over the affair. One MP allegedly accused leaders of 'cocking up' and then casting them 'adrift'.

Party insiders fear up to half a dozen results from the 2015 general election could be declared void, triggering a string of by-elections and possible criminal charges.

The row centres on claims two dozen Tory candidates wrongly declared the use of an election battle bus and spending on hotels as national expenditure rather than local, for which there are tighter spending limits.

One of the affected seats is South Thanet, where Tory Craig Mackinlay defeated then Ukip leader Mr Farage. Yesterday, it was reported Mr Mackinlay was questioned under caution for six hours last week over alleged overspending.

The Crown Prosecution Service is expected to meet with Kent Police in the coming days to decide whether to bring charges.

 

Mr Mackinlay and his agent Nathan Gray deny any wrongdoing. Prime Minister Theresa May's chief of staff Nick Timothy has also been drawn into the controversy over claims he played a key role in the seat, although he faces no accusations of wrongdoing.

Tory party chairman Patrick McLoughlin yesterday held a crisis meeting with MPs embroiled in the campaign spending scandal who could lose their seats if found to have committed an offence.

But it emerged Karl McCartney, the MP for Lincoln who is one of those under investigation, wrote to colleagues last week claiming the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) had received a draft report from the Electoral Commission, which has been investigating party spending for a year, but was withholding it from MPs.

Mr Mackinlay beat Nigel Farage (left) in the General Election contest to be MP for Thanet South, pictured at the declaration  Mr Mackinlay beat Nigel Farage (left) in the General Election contest to be MP for Thanet South, pictured at the declaration 

Mr Mackinlay beat Nigel Farage (left) in the General Election contest to be MP for Thanet South, pictured at the declaration 

In the email, leaked to Sky News, he wrote: 'I have made my disquiet and disbelief at this course of action pretty clear in a blunt email to the party chairman and the whips office overnight.'

He questioned why MPs were not warned about the report, which is expected to be made public in the coming weeks.

In a second email to Mr McLoughlin, the MP accused party leaders of being to blame but only being interested in 'covering their own backsides'. He wrote that his colleagues 'feel completely cast adrift by CCHQ/whips/the Parliamentary Party and left to fend for themselves'.

In the message, also leaked to Sky News, he added: 'We didn't create this mess, the clever d***s at CCHQ did, and I don't see their professional reputations being trashed in the media much.'

Mr McCartney last night said he had 'made my forthright views clear privately to a number of senior representatives of the Conservative Party on behalf of my backbench colleagues at various times since the partisan decision by the Electoral Commission to examine only Conservative candidates' election expenses'.

Nigel Farage (pictured) said he will likely stand again if the contest in South Thanet is re-run Nigel Farage (pictured) said he will likely stand again if the contest in South Thanet is re-run

Nigel Farage (pictured) said he will likely stand again if the contest in South Thanet is re-run

He added: 'The Conservative Party advised us the so-called campaign 'battle buses' were, as at previous general elections and in keeping with the practice of both the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, a national campaign expense.

'This meant that they were not to be declared in our own election expenses.'

Mr Farage has said he will likely stand again if the contest in South Thanet is re-run.

Former Tory party chairman Grant Shapps claimed on Sunday that Mr Timothy was 'actually down full-time' in Thanet running the campaign, telling The Sunday Times: 'Nick seems to have been orchestrating a lot of the activity down there, unfortunately from his point of view.'

A Tory party spokesman said last night: 'We are cooperating with the ongoing investigations.'

Kent Police said: 'Our investigation into this complex matter is ongoing and it would not be appropriate to comment further.

Mr Mackinlay did not respond to a request for comment. 

 

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