A Tory MP has reportedly been interviewed by police under caution as part of the investigation into the party’s expenses at the last election.
Media are reporting that police interviewed South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay last week as they investigate allegations that campaigns in the 2015 General Election in a raft of seats failed to declare the expenses of “Battlebus” campaigners who were drafted in to campaign in marginal constituencies across the country.
The investigation has been going on for around a year and follows revelations by Channel 4 News about the funding of the campaign in crucial marginal seats.
It centres on whether the Battlebus’ expenses were part of the national campaign or the local campaigns it visited.
“We are cooperating with the ongoing investigations,” a party spokeswoman told The Guardian when asked about the police interview.
Mackinlay, who defeated Nigel Farage to win the Kent seat, was interviewed for six hours, The Sun reported. The paper added that police were to meet prosecutors next week to discuss possible prosecutions.
On Sunday, Farage told the BBC he would “probably” be the Ukip candidate if the police investigation forced a by-election in South Thanet.
It comes as Sky News published an email apparently sent by Karl McCartney, one of the MPs whose campaign is under investigation to party chairman Patrick McLoughlin, saying he and colleagues “feel completely cast adrift” by the party over the issue and “left to fend for themselves”.
McCartney, who represents Lincoln, wrote to McLoughlin:
“At what stage do you think you might inform us that another media shitstorm is coming? We didn’t create this mess, the clever dicks at CCHQ [Conservative Campaign Headquarters] did, and I don’t see their professional reputations being trashed in the media much.
“The initial cock-ups, ‘strategy’ and ineptitude with regard to this issue that has so negatively impacted our: lives, standing in our communities, standing amongst colleagues, families and our regard for particular parts of the Party centrally, and were all of CCHQ’s making... need to stop.
“We are the ones who are now in the media spotlight and it might have been a little more reassuring and collegiate if the powers that be in our party perhaps tried to be a little bit more supportive and less interested in covering their own backsides.”
The Conservative Party has always maintained the Battlebus were a national expense.
But one couple who volunteered told Channel 4 News that their efforts had a local focus, talking to voters about the candidate and issues in the area.
While they campaigned, Gregg and Louise Kinsell were put up at hotels in Taunton, Plymouth and Hayle but none of these hotels appear to have been declared by any of the candidates in those seats, Channel 4 News reported.
Louise Kinsell said: “When you hear that they’re saying that we went down and we were just giving the central government message, no, no we weren’t.
“I’m not going to lie about that. No we weren’t... They’re telling lies about what we did. We duped people on the doors. It feels like cheating and I don’t like that...
“We were on the bus, we know what happened. We know what we were doing, and they know what we were doing.”
Gregg Kinsell said: “If people are saying, and the MPs concerned in these areas are saying it was part of a greater expense nationally for the Conservatives, that is a lie and an obvious falsehood.
“In that case I feel especially motivated to go to the police and go to the Electoral Commission.”