Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Lib Dems fined over Election spending

The Liberal Democrats have been hit with a £20,000 fine from the Electoral Commission for failing to declare all their spending during the general election campaign last year.

A total of 307 payments amounting to £184,676 were found to be missing from the party's spending return.

The commission has now referred the matter to the police to see if any criminal offences have been committed, the Lib Dems however have said human errors and failures of process were to blame.

The Metropolitan Police have been notified that the campaigns officer, Tim Gordon, may have committed a criminal offence IF he knowingly signed a false declaration on spending. BUT no charges have been brought and it appears there is no specific evidence at this stage to suggest Mr Gordon was reckless in any way.

Speaking to Adam Boulton on Sky News Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, accepted the decision of the commission, saying the party was "Working with the Electoral Commission processes and practices so that nothing like this happens again."

When asked if the party could afford the fine, Farron said "we have the money".

Meanwhile a Lib Dem spokesperson said the mistakes had been caused by issues with a small number of local accounting units.

Bob Posner, director of political finance at the Electoral Commission said "this is an experienced party that failed to meet the basic requirements of the law, and cases like this undermine voters' confidence in our political finance system".

Posner said this was the reason why the commission had decided to heap the highest possible fine on the party, however the commission has also called for an increase to the maximum penalty to further deter political parties from bad practice.

As a member of the Lib Dems paying a monthly direct debit to the party, this news has really disappointed me. I'm sure the party haven't purposely done anything wrong, so I am giving those in charge the benefit of the doubt, so hopefully upon further investigation it will be found that no criminal wrong doing has been committed.

But lets hope this acts as a wake up call and the party gets its act together going forward.

Furthermore it should be noted that other party's are hardly perfect when it comes to this, in October, Labour was fined £20,000 for failing to declare all of its general election expenses, which included a 8ft stone tablet (awful idea), that had Ed Miliband's key pledges carved on it.

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