People who live in glass house shouldn’t throw stones.
The Electoral Commission on Thursday applied for a High Court order to force the Tories to hand over the missing papers – which it says would help shed light on whether the party broke spending rules in key marginal seats at the general election.
Police across UK have announced criminal investigations into the Conservative Party’s conduct at the general election after a Channel 4 News investigation alleged it might have broken spending rules.
According to the broadcaster, the party allegedly failed to locally declare the costs of bussing activists around to marginal seats – activity which could potentially have swung hotly contested marginals in their favour.
Between 20 and 30 marginal seats were reportedly visited by the bussed-in activists; the Tories ultimately only won a majority of 12, allowing them to form a majority government.
If electoral law is found to have been broken then punishments could include fines and prison sentences.
David Cameron was asked at PMQs to account for his party’s actions at the election. He replied: “The whole point in this country is the Electoral Commission is independent and when it comes to operational decisions by a police force, they are independent too. That’s the hallmark of an uncorrupt country!”
The Electoral Commission said it had already issued a statutory notice demanding the Tories hand over the documents using powers granted to it under the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA) 2000.
However, after the party failed to comply with part of the notice, the Commission said it had launched a court bid “for a disclosure order which if granted would be the court compelling the Respondent to release the required documents and information to the Commission”.
Bob Posner, director of party and election finance and legal counsel at the Electoral Commission, said the withheld documents were necessary to proceed with the investigation.
“If parties under investigation do not comply with our requirements for the disclosure of relevant material in reasonable time and after sufficient opportunity to do so, the Commission can seek recourse through the courts,” he said.
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