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SNP says May's party 'not off hook'

Tories to face no charges over election spending

Theresa May on Marr
Theresa May: ‘no

Criminal charges will not be brought over allegations of expenses fraud by the Conservative party during the 2015 election campaign, prosecutors said today.

The announcement from the Crown Prosecution Service removes a potential banana skin from Theresa May’s campaign just weeks before the General Election.

More than 30 MPs and their electoral agents were under investigation over their spending and the CPS consulted 14 police forces.

The investigation looked at whether expenses incurred by activists on the party’s “Battle Bus” were deliberately not declared on the local candidate’s expenditure returns but recorded as a national cost instead, to avoid breaking spending limits.

The Electoral Commission in March fined the Conservatives a record £70,000 for breaking rules by incorrectly reporting its spending.

But the CPS said it would be impossible to prove deliberate wrongdoing and has now ruled that there will be no further action.

Nick Vamos, the CPS head of special crime, said: “We reviewed the files in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and have concluded the tests in the Code are not met and no criminal charges have been authorised.

“Although there is evidence to suggest the returns may have been inaccurate, there is insufficient evidence to prove to the criminal standard that any candidate or agent was dishonest.”

The Scottish National Party has said the Tories are “not off the hook”.

SNP candidate for Perth and North Perthshire Pete Wishart said: “Today’s CPS decision that there is insufficient evidence of criminal intent to the standard required for a prosecution is far from a clean bill of health for the Tory party – who have already been fined a record £70,000 by the Electoral Commission for breaching election spending rules.

“The Tory party will not be let off the hook for their proven failure to accurately report election spending, and their actions highlight the need for urgent reforms.

“A vote for the SNP at this election is a vote to ensure tougher rules and higher standards are introduced. A strong team of SNP MPs at Westminster will support new powers for the Electoral Commission, giving them the legal authority to investigate offences and providing them with much higher sanctioning powers.

“The SNP are determined to clean up and reform the broken Westminster political system.”

The Scottish Green party has come under attack for announcing it will only contest three seats in the General Election.

Scottish Labour’s Election campaign manager James Kelly said: “The Greens have capitulated in this election in a desperate attempt to help their SNP masters. Patrick Harvie has sacrificed all his principles on the altar of Scottish independence.

“But after his party helped inflict a £170million cut on local services across Scotland this year, it is no surprise he doesn’t want to select candidates who would be told on the doorsteps how the Green/SNP cuts are hurting local communities.”

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