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Tory facing election expenses charges increases majority

Craig Mackinlay kept the Kent seat of South Thanet, just a week after the CPS said he would be prosecuted.

A Conservative candidate facing charges over his 2015 General Election expenses has thanked voters for continuing to place their trust in him after he was re-elected.

Craig Mackinlay won the Kent seat of South Thanet with a majority of 6,387, just one week after it was revealed he would be prosecuted.

Mr Mackinlay had branded the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decision to charge him in the days before polls opened as “very unfair”.

But he increased his majority in the seat where he defeated former Ukip leader Nigel Farage in 2015.

Addressing the count at the Winter Gardens in Margate, Mr Mackinlay said: “Despite the best efforts of various organisations to break my legs for this election just a few days ago, we did it here in South Thanet.

“I’ve got lots of thanks to make this evening. A big thanks are to the voters of Thanet for continuing to put their trust in me.

“I’ve done my best to serve for the last two years. The best I possibly can as their local representative, their champion in Westminster, and I’m so proud to have been returned with an even bigger majority tonight.”

The CPS said last Friday that it had charged Mr Mackinlay with offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983.

Mr Mackinlay, who denies any wrongdoing, told the Press Association he was “very pleased” by the result, calling it a “great endorsement from the people of Thanet”.

He said: “All I can say is that I did nothing wrong and I acted properly throughout and I think that will become more and more underlined as this matter progresses.

“But it was out in the open, people knew about it, they’d read about it, they’d seen it on the telly and yet they still made their – in my view – sensible decision to re-elect me as their MP. Because they have seen me as a hard-working, local champion for them.”

Ahead of the result, Mr Mackinlay criticised the CPS for charging him.

He said: “It was a bizarre decision, just six days before an election and I would say a frankly very unfair one.

“If it was designed to try and break one of my legs, it couldn’t have been better timed.”

Despite his concerns that the result would be “quite tight”, Mr Mackinlay won 25,262 votes to hold the seat ahead of Labour’s Raushan Ara, who came second with 18,875 votes.


From Belfast Telegraph