Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay charged after election expenses investigation

Written by Kevin Schofield and Jenni Davidson on 2 June 2017 in News

The MP for South Thanet defeated UKIP leader Nigel Farage in the 2015 general election

Craig Mackinlay, Conservative candidate for Thanet - Image credit: PA Images

A Conservative MP has been charged following a police investigation into his general election expenses for the 2015 election.

Craig Mackinlay defeated former UKIP leader Nigel Farage in South Thanet following a keenly contested battle in the Kent seat.

He was one of around 20 successful candidates at the last general election whose expense returns were investigated by police.

The others were told last month that they would not face criminal proceedings.

But in a statement this morning, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that Mackinlay, 50, would be charged, along with Tory activists Nathan Gray and Marion Little.

They will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 4 July.

However, Mackinlay will still be standing as the Conservative candidate in South Thanet in next week's general election.

Nick Vamos, Head of Special Crime for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "On 18 April 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 enquiries to be made in advance of the 11 June statutory time limit by when any charges needed to be authorised.

"Those enquiries have now been completed and we have considered the evidence in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

"We have concluded there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to authorise charges against three people.

"Craig Mackinlay, 50, Nathan Gray, 28, and Marion Little, 62, have each been charged with offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983 and are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 4 July 2017.

"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."

A Conservative Party spokesman said: "The legal authorities have previously cleared Conservative candidates who faced numerous politically motivated and unfounded complaints over the party’s national Battlebus campaigning.

"We continue to believe that this remaining allegation is unfounded. Our candidate has made clear that there was no intention by him or his campaigners to engage in any inappropriate activity.

“We believe that they have done nothing wrong, and we are confident that this will be proven as the matter progresses.

"The individuals remain innocent unless otherwise proven guilty in a court of law."

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