Allegations about election campaign spending first raised by Channel 4 News resulted today in the Tory Party candidate for South Thanet being charged with offences under the Representation of the People Act.
Craig Mackinlay has been charged along with campaigner Nathan Gray and Conservative Party staffer Marion Little.
Channel 4 news political correspondent Michael Crick first raised questions about campaign spending by Conservative candidates in the 2015 general election in January 2016.
He reported questions about hotel bills declared by the Conservatives in South Thanet in the run up to the election.
Ramsgate resident Michael Barnbrook wrote to Kent Police later that month making complaints under sections 81, 82 and 84 of the 1983 Representation of the People Act, which make it a criminal offence for local party election agents not to make a full disclosure of all their election expenses.
In February 2016, the Daily Mirror further added to the controversy by raising questions about spending on a national campaign bus visiting South Thanet.
Crown Prosecution Service Head of Special Crime Nick Vamos 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.”