The electoral commission launched an investigation on Thursday looking at Tory spending during the general election for the Thanet South seat in Kent. The investigation follows claims by Channel 4 News that the party overspent in securing the seat, which was won by Conservative Craig Mackinlay.
The commission said it would look at bills incurred by Tory staff for two hotels in the constituency. Thanet South gained national attention in the run up to the national vote as it was contested by Ukip leader Nigel Farage. The Conservative Party maintains there was no wrongdoing.
Although the commission cannot investigate allegations against individual candidates as a criminal offence, it can examine national spending by a party during an election, with the teeth to levy a £20,000 penalty for a violation.
Kent Police said on Thursday then will not pursue a criminal investigating until after the commission delivers its findings. A police spokeswoman said, "At this stage the matter will sit with the Electoral Commission. Kent Police officers will liaise closely with the Electoral Commission and investigate if appropriate.”
The Commission's investigation will focus on the Premier Inn in Margate and the Royal Harbour Hotel in Ramsgate, and whether bills were correctly recorded as national campaign spending by the Tories.
"The investigation opened by the commission today focuses on whether the Conservative Party met their reporting obligations under the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act," a Commission statement said.
According to Channel 4 News, the Tories spent more than £15,000 campaigning in South Thanet. The limit was around £9,000.