It could be the first where the Michael Crick C4 investigation has an impact
The big party expenses probe by the Electoral Commission that was triggered off by the series of C4 News reports by Michael Crick appears to be edging forward. Yesterday the Lib Dem were fined £20k by the Electoral Commission following a similar move some weeks back against Labour. The Crick investigation has looked mostly at the GE2015 expenses in crucial battlegrounds for the Tories. Guido writes:
“..The focus will be South Thanet where the Tories ran a highly professional “Stop Farage” effort deploying some of their top operatives… Guido sources say that Conservative HQ is bracing itself for the police investigation resulting in criminal charges.
South Thanet misspending a not an Electoral Commission matter. It is a police matter and potentially a criminal offence under sections 81, 82 and 84 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. Back in June Craig Mackinlay, the Tory who beat Farage, failed to block police extending the time available for their investigation of his election expenses spending. The Tories – in a very rare move – tried to block the police from further investigating the campaign. Guido believes that the South Thanet campaign will prove to be the biggest overspend by any political party in any individual seat ever. Guido understands the Tories spent over £200,000 to stop Nigel Farage winning the seat…”
PB sources have also reported concern within the Tory HQ about other seats.
Quite where this would go electorally is hard to say but it looks set to be one of the big domestic political stories of 2017.