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Pressure on May's majority

Tory MP faces trial over expenses claim

A Tory MP will face trial accused of making false declarations over his spending in the 2015 general election.

Craig MacKinlay, 50, who beat UKIP challenger Nigel Farage in the South Thanet seat, was re-elected in last month’s vote.

MacKinlay appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court alongside his election agent Nathan Gray, 28, and Marion Little, 62, a campaign director from the Conservatives’ head office who both also face charges over the expense returns.

All said they would plead not guilty when the charges were read to them and they will now go on trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court. Their next hearing set for 1 August and they were granted unconditional bail.

Mr MacKinlay could be jailed for up to a year if he is found guilty of the charges.

The case focuses on a claim that MacKinlay should have included costs on his expenses return relating to activists on the Conservatives’ “Battle Bus” which was sent to campaign in closely-contested seats.

Theresa May’s Conservatives lost their majority in June and rule with a slender margin only through an agreement with 10 Northern Ireland MPs.

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