South Thanet candidate and two others will be in court next month for alleged fiddling of campaign expenses in 2015
A TORY parliamentary candidate has been charged with fiddling election expenses.
South Thanet’s Craig Mackinlay has been charged with offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983 after an investigation into 2015 general election campaign expenses.
Two Tory party officials, Nathan Gray, 28 and Marion Little, 62, have also been charged and all three could face a fine or up to a year in prison if found guilty.
Ms Little is a “campaigns specialist” for the Conservative Party and was awarded an OBE by the Tories in 2016 for “political services.”
They are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on July 4.
Mr Mackinlay is standing for re-election in the South Thanet constituency in Kent after he won the seat in 2015, beating Ukip’s then leader Nigel Farage.
Crown Prosecution Service head of special crime Nick Vamos said: “On April 18 we received a file of evidence from Kent Police concerning allegations relating to Conservative Party expenditure during the 2015 general election campaign.
“We then asked for additional inquiries to be made in advance of the June 11 statutory time limit by when any charges needed to be authorised.
“We have concluded there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to authorise charges against three people.
“Craig Mackinlay, Nathan Gray and Marion Little have each been charged with offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983.
“Criminal proceedings have now commenced and it is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Mr Mackinlay condemned the “shocking” decision to prosecute and said he was confident he would be cleared.
He said: “I have done nothing wrong and acted honestly and properly whilst a candidate in 2015, and as all candidates do, acted upon advice throughout.”
A Conservative Party spokesman said the party believed the allegations were “unfounded” and warned the media that they could be prosecuted under contempt of court rules if they published anything prejudicial to the case.
“The individuals remain innocent unless otherwise proven guilty in a court of law,” he said.
“There is a broad consensus that election law is fragmented, confused and unclear, with two different sets of legislation, and poor guidance from the Electoral Commission.”
Although the charges will be heard first by magistrates, the three could also potentially be sent to the Crown Court.