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Tories face questions over by-election spending

Published 09/02/2016

Ukip MP Douglas Carswell says he will raise the issue with the Electoral Commission
Ukip MP Douglas Carswell says he will raise the issue with the Electoral Commission

The Conservative Party is facing questions about failing to declare tens of thousands of pounds of spending during three by-election campaigns.

Channel 4 News said it had obtained hundreds of pages of receipts which suggested the party broke electoral rules in the 2014 contests in Newark, Clacton and Rochester & Strood.

But a party spokeswoman said: "All by-election spending has been correctly recorded in accordance with the law."

The Tories defeated Ukip in Newark, but went on to lose the other two by-elections.

Campaign spending in by-elections is limited to £100,000 for each party. Channel 4 News said it had uncovered £56,866.75 of undeclared hotel bills in Rochester, which would have taken the party £53,659.83 over the £100,000 spending limit.

It found bills totalling £26,786.14 in Clacton, which would have taken the party £10,835.36 over the limit, and bills totalling £10,459.30 in Newark, which would meant a £6,650.28 overspend.

Ukip's Clacton MP Douglas Carswell told the programme: "It's shocking ... It's simply intolerable. You have to have a law to make sure you don't have unfair advantage.

"We need to look at whether the Electoral Commission should have the right powers. I will certainly be raising it (with the commission)."

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