Police extend investigation into alleged election fraud

Maria Caulfield at the election count in May last year

Maria Caulfield at the election count in May last year

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Sussex Police has requested more time to investigate allegations of election fraud in Lewes last year.

The force is looking into claims that Lewes MP Maria Caulfield failed to fully declare the costs of her General Election campaign in May 2015.

The investigation began last month after the Liberal Democrats in Lewes made an appeal to the force’s Chief Constable, asking police to look into the claims.

A Sussex Police spokesman said, “On May 23 we received an allegation of potential election expenses irregularities by one MP in Sussex relating to the 2015 Parliamentary Elections.

“This is being looked into and a court application is being made for an extension of time. Enquiries are at an early stage and no further information is available.

“At this stage we have received no other information on which to base an enquiry about any other MP.”

The investigation is thought to be looking into allegations that the Conservative’s campaign in Lewes failed to declare the full cost of telephone canvassing as well as leafleting and other expenses.

Ms Caulfield said, “I welcome the investigation as I am confident my election returns were conducted according to the law.

“The complaint from the Lib Dems was put in two weeks before the deadline of June 10 and so it is important that the police have the time they need to investigate the complaint thoroughly and I am very happy to supply any evidence needed for the investigation.”

The investigation was started last month following a complaint by the Lewes Liberal Democrat group.

Lewes District Lib Dem Group Leader Sarah Osborne said, “This is a serious and substantive complaint and I really hope that the police are granted the time that they need to fully investigate.

“It is essential to our democracy that the laws preventing financial resources determining the outcome of elections is enforced. After all if this was a football match with 12 men against 11 you would cry foul.”

The investigation into the campaign in Lewes is not thought to be connected to other allegations of election fraud elsewhere in the UK.

In total 17 police forces have applied for extra time to investigate allegations of election fraud in the UK.

All the MPs involved and the Conservative party deny any wrongdoing.

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