Watchdog Asks Court to Make Conservatives Help in Election Spending Probe

In a legal action against the Conservative Party, the Electoral Commission has sought the party to disclose information related to its investigation into claims that it breached election spending rules. According to the watchdog, it has applied to the High Court for a “document and information disclosure order” after party chiefs failed to provide requested details.

The Conservatives are facing accusations of having had recorded the costs of activists bussed into marginal seats under individual candidates’ limits, rather than as part of the national campaign. Nine police forces have also launched fraud investigations. The Commission has mentioned in a statement that the party failed to properly act on two statutory notices requiring it to produce information, namely “limited disclosure of material in response to the first notice (issued on 18 February 2016) and no material in response to the second notice (issued on 23 March 2016),” despite being granted extensions to the original deadlines to comply.

Director of party and election finance and legal counsel, Bob Posner, alleged that “if parties under investigation do not comply with our requirements for the disclosure of relevant material in reasonable time and after sufficient opportunity to do so, the Commission can seek recourse through the courts.” Furthermore, it was mentioned that “we are today asking the court to require the party to fully disclose the documents and information we regard as necessary to effectively progress our investigation into the party’s campaign spending returns.”

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