THORNBURY and Yate MP Luke Hall has been named among 24 MPs to omit visits from the Tory “Battlebus” in election campaign expenses.
Mr Hall, who unseated long-serving Lib Dem MP Sir Steve Webb in 2015, was visited in the run up to the election by the bus, which travelled the country with party workers to assist campaigns in marginal constituencies – at a cost of more than £2,000 a day.
Statistics released by the Mirror newspaper, it states that Mr Hall declared £13,128 in election expenses, under the £14,709 spending limit for the constituency campaign.
The investigation claimed that Mr Hall would have overspent on the legal limit his campaign by £568, had he included the cost of the battle bus to his campaign.
A Conservative Party spokesman said: “The local agents of Conservative candidates correctly declared all local spending in the 2015 general election.
“CCHQ has always taken the view that it’s nationally directed battlebus campaign – a highly-publicised and visible activity with national branding – was part of its national return, and it would have no reason not to declare it as such, given that the Party was £2 million below the national spending threshold.
“MPs in constituencies visited by the battlebus would have no reason to consider whether it should be included in their local return – they were directed that the bus would be visiting as part of CCHQ’s national spending.”
The expenses have been under examination by the Electoral Commission in an investigation launched last year.
Alongside the investigation, an Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said that a file had been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service, having “received a number of allegations in relation to improper spending in the 2015 General Election by the Conservative Party.”
It was announced today that the party would be fined £70,000.
The Conservative spokesman said that the party had complied fully with the investigation by the Electoral Commission, would continue to co-operate with the police and other authorities and would be paying the fines they have imposed.
The spokesman added that both Labour and the Liberal Democrats had also been fined, and that this was the first time the Conservative Party had been fined for a reporting error.
The suggestion was then made that while the party would be reviewing internal processes to ensure it does not happen again, that “there needs to be a review of how the Electoral Commission’s processes and requirements could be clarified or improved.”