Nominations to stand as an MP in the general election have now closed. About 30 mostly Tory MPs could breathe a sigh of relief as the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed that “no criminal charges have been authorised” over alleged cases of electoral fraud.
This follows investigations by 14 police forces into the use of the “Battlebus2015” in marginal seats.
The CPS accept that there is evidence that returns on electoral spending were inaccurate but these
cannot prove “to the criminal standard that any candidate or agent was dishonest.”
The cost of the bus, travel, accommodation and expenses costs of the activists was put down as national expenditure rather than recorded for each seat individually. Early investigations by Channel
4 prompted the Electoral Commission to look into the case, and the Tories were fined a record £70,000.
The CPS had to decide if it was in the “public interest” to pursue the matter in court. As candidates
appeared to have been informed that the Battlebus and other expenditure was national, it is hard to prove there was any intentional dishonesty. The CPS may have thought it too expensive to pursue the case.
Whatever the reasons, the leniency of the CPS decision on these Tories is something rarely shown to supposed “benefit scroungers” or working-class “criminals”.