Police get extra time to investigate Tory 'electoral fraud' claims


The Conservative Party has failed to block a legal bid giving police more time to investigate electoral fraud allegations. 

Magistrates granted Kent Police an extra 12 months to investigate the claims during a hearing at Folkestone Magistrates' Court on Wednesday.

The Conservative Party sent representation to the hearing to argue against the extension. 

A one-year time limit to launch potential criminal proceedings relating to the 2015 general election was due to expire on June 12. 

The claims centre around whether Tory spending on hotels in South Thanet should have been recorded as local campaign spending, rather than the national budget which is larger.

The seat, unsuccessfully contested by Ukip leader Nigel Farage, was won by Tory Craig Mackinlay who was elected as an MP for the first time.

The allegations were first made by Channel 4 News following an investigation into party spending in marginal seats.

A spokeswoman for Kent Police said: "On 1 June, at Folkestone Magistrates' Court, Kent Police's application for an extension to investigate any local offences relating to the general election spending under the Representation of the People Act was successful.

"The extension allows a further 12 months for an investigation."

The force is one of at least 10 around the country to have launched an inquiry following claims the Conservatives broke the law on campaign spending.

Warwickshire Police has already been granted an extension to continue an investigation into alleged electoral fraud in last year's general election.

The Electoral Commission is also probing allegations the Tories breached spending rules ahead of their knife-edge poll win last year.

David Cameron has previously insisted that the party could answer the allegations.