UK Conservatives handed record fine over election expenses


LONDON: Britain’s ruling Conservatives made “numerous failures” in reporting expenses for several elections and breached campaign spending rules, an independent watchdog said Thursday in an embarrassing blow for Prime Minister Theresa May.
The Electoral Commission slapped its largest ever fine — £70,000 (80,000 euros, $86,000) — on the Conservatives after the party misreported expenses for the 2015 general election and three by-elections in 2014.
This was a further blow for May after a difficult week in which she was forced into a humiliating budget U-turn and wrong-footed by a surprise call for a referendum on Scottish independence.
The head of the Electoral Commission, John Holmes, said the party’s failure to follow the rules “undermined voters’ confidence in our democratic processes”.
The watchdog added that the fine was not “proportionate” to current campaign spending levels and called for tougher measures.
“There is a risk that some political parties might come to view the payment of these fines as a cost of doing business,” Holmes said.
The Conservatives said they had complied fully with the investigation and would pay the fine.
“Political parties of all colors have made reporting mistakes from time to time,” a party spokesman said. AFP



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