Tory MP in court to face charges over 2015 general election expenses

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A Conservative MP will appear in court to face charges over his 2015 general election expenses.

Craig Mackinlay is accused of offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983 alongside Marion Little, 62, and Nathan Gray, 28.

Last month the 50-year-old, of St George's Square in Pimlico, central London, held on to the Kent seat of South Thanet with an increased majority of 6,387, just one week after it was announced he would be prosecuted.

Mackinlay, who denies any wrongdoing, described the decision to charge him as "very unfair" and after his victory he told those gathered at the count that he thanked the public despite what he said were attempts to "break my legs" ahead of the election.

Prime Minister Theresa May backed him ahead of polling day, saying the Conservative Party believed the allegations were "unfounded".

In 2015 Mackinlay beat Nigel Farage, the then Ukip leader, into second place with a majority of almost 3,000.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the decision to press charges came after an investigation by Kent Police concerning allegations relating to Conservative Party expenditure during the 2015 election campaign, and before the June 11 statutory time limit on prosecutions.

Mackinlay will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday charged with two counts of making a false election expenses declaration, while Little, of New Road, in Ware, Hertfordshire, and election agent Gray, of Red Oak, in Hawkhurst, Kent, each face three counts and one count of the same charge respectively.