Election expenses scandal – Devon and Cornwall info passed to Crown Prosecution Service

“Twelve police forces have passed files to the Crown Prosecution Service over allegations that Conservatives broke campaign spending laws at the last election, after a 10-month investigation by police forces across the country.

The revelation is likely to increase concern in Downing Street and the Conservative party about the seriousness of the investigations, which could affect several sitting MPs and even lead to election results being declared void if there are prosecutions.

The CPS said it had been passed files from Avon and Somerset; Derbyshire; Cumbria; Devon and Cornwall; Gloucestershire; Greater Manchester; Lincolnshire; the Metropolitan police; Northamptonshire; Nottinghamshire; West Yorkshire; and Staffordshire police.

They are among the 19 forces that applied for extensions to time limits on investigating election offences last year.

Police and the CPS are not naming any MPs or agents who may be under investigation as a result of allegations that spending on local campaigning was recorded as national spending in breach of election laws. …

… The penalties for wrongly declaring local elections are steep, with possible criminal charges for MPs and their election agents. Results can also be declared void. [Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, was election agent to an investigated MP].

Speculation has been rife in Westminster that a series of byelections could be triggered by police prosecutions over spending or potentially encourage May to call a general election to avoid an embarrassing focus on the constituencies involved.”