U.K. Prosecutors Say No Charges Over 2015 Election SpendingBy
Rules broken, but ‘not possible’ to prove dishonesty
One case against a Conservative still under investigation
U.K. prosecutors said they won’t charge anyone over infractions of spending rules in the 2015 general-election campaign, clearing a potential cloud from Theresa May’s current electoral battle.
Police had launched investigations into several candidates from her Conservative Party, after criticisms of the way they categorized money spent on their campaigns. British law sets separate limits for spending by national campaigns and in each district.
The question was whether busloads of activists sent to some seats counted as part of the national spend, or toward individual local tallies. In March, the Electoral Commission fined the Conservatives 70,000 pounds ($90,000) for failing to report some spending accurately.
“Although there is evidence to suggest the returns may have been inaccurate, there is insufficient evidence to prove to the criminal standard that any candidate or agent was dishonest,” the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement on Wednesday. One file, from Kent Police in southeast England, remains under consideration, the CPS said.
In April, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said the investigation was May’s motive for calling the June 8 election, arguing she wanted to have a fresh vote before the probe “catches up with her.”
The Tories welcomed the decision. “These were politically motivated and unfounded complaints that have wasted police time,” the party chairman, Patrick McLoughlin, said in a statement. “A number of false and malicious claims continue to be spread on the internet. People should be aware that making false claims about a candidate’s personal character and conduct is an electoral offence, as well as being defamatory.”
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, told reporters while campaigning in northern England he was “interested and surprised” by the decision.
“Our election laws must be enforced and must be adhered to,” he said. “There are strict spending limits for a reason, so that money can’t buy power.”