Craig Mackinlay, Conservative MP for South Thanet, has been cleared of two charges relating to alleged false expenses declarations during the 2015 general election campaign.
Mackinlay was one of three people on trial following allegations of overspending during the campaign in which Mackinlay won his seat in Parliament from former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
Each local constituency must keep their spending under the £52,000 limit for each election campaign however; it was alleged that Mackinlay and his team spent more than double that on expenses for a number of high profile visits to the area. These included visits by Theresa May, Boris Johnson, and George Osborne. Prosecutors alleged that these expenses were wrongly and deliberately posted under national election spending rather than local constituency spending in order to avoid spending over the local constituency spending budget.
Mackinlay was acquitted by the jury of two counts of knowingly making false election expenses declaration under the Representation of the People Act 1983. His election agent Nathan Gray was also acquitted of similar charges.
A senior party official was, however; found guilty of two counts of “intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007.” Marion Little was cleared of the third charge against her.
Little is due to be sentenced later but is unlikely to face an immediate custodial sentence due to her “wholly exceptional” circumstances as she cares for her terminally ill husband.
Election fraud can carry a prison sentence of varying length depending on the severity of the offence.
Farleys Solicitors have a team of experienced fraud defence experts including a number who have experience in electoral fraud including vote buying, postal vote manipulation, alleged instances of misinformation, and intimidation. If you have been accused of any of the above, it is vital you seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. To get in touch with Farleys’ fraud team please call 0845 287 0939 or email us through our online contact form, or on firstname.lastname@example.org.