the first time since the election expenses scandal broke on Channel 4 News
in January, Jon Snow got a chance to put the allegations to the Prime Minister.
Conservative Party has come under increasing pressure regarding their alleged
overspending at elections over several issues, with 18 police
investigating potential fraud and 31 MPs implicated. The
original Channel 4 investigation focused on 3 by-elections in Kent – Rochester
and Strood, Clacton-on-Sea, and Newark-upon-Trent where £100,000
of hotel bookings had not been declared.
were further allegations that the Tories broke the law fighting off Nigel
Farage in South Thanet. Investigations have revealed that undeclared expenses
would have taken MP, Craig MacKinlay, £18,973
over the spending limit. Kent police have now been granted an extension to
investigate these claims – but not before the Conservative party sent a
barrister to Kent to unsuccessfully oppose the application.
this, there were revelations that the Tories had overspent on their battle bus
campaign – with 24 MPs under investigation for not declaring
has also been carrying out its own investigations
into electoral fraud with evidence from
a whistleblower that the Tories conducted misleading surveys. Those paid to
carry out the surveys were allegedly instructed not to reveal that they
were, in fact, working for the Conservative party. Again, there are questions
over whether this spending was, or should have been, declared on their spending
last time Jon Snow tried to interview MPs about electoral fraud, he was left
with nine empty chairs
as none of the accused could face turning
up to answer his questions. However finally, after five months, Channel
were able to put some of their questions to David Cameron. And it did not
go well for the Prime Minister.
questioned Cameron over the referendum, Snow turned to the election expenses,
have you been prepared to spend money on a QC to try and stop the police
investigating what we have revealed?
first words were an outright lie:
we haven’t been doing that, what we are doing is we are co-operating with a…
immediately interrupted to challenge him:
have a QC in the Thanet South constituency, in the court, actually asking the court
to stop the investigation.
Cameron tried to come up with more waffle, Snow hammered the point home:
went to court to ask the court not to allow the police an extension to go on
investigating these abuses.
which Cameron responded in direct contradiction to his first answer:
then claimed that he was “very happy for the Electoral Commission to examine
all of this” to which Snow immediately asked:
why get a QC to stop it then?
again, the Prime Minister had no answer to give, and floundered saying:
that was in one particular seat.
then reiterated he was “happy” there was now time for the allegations to be
investigations and that “they had all the paperwork to examine this”.
was a another contentious issue as Snow interrupted Cameron again:
have got the paperwork, but Prime Minister, with respect, the Electoral
Commission had to go to court to wring the papers out of you.
denied this was the case, and Snow reiterated the point:
were three days overdue and they had to go to court.
Prime Minister then went from saying “they didn’t have to go to court”
saying that in their view it was “unnecessary”
which is hardly the same point.
This is especially pertinent given the judgement in the South Thanet case
refers to the fact that the party failed
“to provide complete and timely disclosure of
relevant material such that application had to be made to the High Court”.
he was onto a losing article, Cameron resorted to:
anyway there’s no point having a spat about this now.
led Snow to accuse Cameron of not taking the accusations “seriously” and that:
are 31 seats, that you under-declared, and in some cases by tens of thousands
of pounds, hotel costs which were never figured in the local inventory.
repeated the much touted
rhetoric that it the battles expenses were
Having not been able to give a clear, consistent or
truthful answer to any of the questions up to this point, he then confusingly
don’t think there are any questions that anyone is asking that we can’t answer.
then nailed him with the judgement from the application for the extension to
investigate the offences:
judge said that Channel 4 news allegations indicate the potential for offences
committed in a significant number of constituencies on an unprecedented scale.
This is scandal of very large proportions.
of giving a straight answer, Cameron attempted to see how many times he could
put the word “national” into one reply:
I don’t agree with that as I say all parties have these national bus tours,
which I think by definition are national, and all parties have costs associated
with those national tours which again I’d say by definition are national. And
those should be part of the national declaration.
was then asked about his own majority being in “serious danger” if any of the
allegations were proved. However, instead of answering the question, he chose
to sneer at the investigation:
I say look, it’s a Channel 4 investigation. I know that you’re proud of the
work you’ve done.
We’re very happy we’re answering all of the questions. I
think you’re making quite a large mountain out of what I think is a relatively
you disagree with the judge then?
which Cameron responded:
no. I think it is a relatively straightforward set of questions that we have to
Cameron, evidently you do disagree with the judge given the judgement clearly
states that given the number of overlapping accusations
the case is “complex and time
his assertions, it is very clear Cameron is able to give anything but a
straight answer to these allegations of election fraud. Just the act of sending
a barrister to attempt to obstruct the police investigation in South Thanet is
an example of how worried is he is – and no number of glib replies can cover
the small majority the Conservatives have, this scandal has the real potential
of costing them power. It is essential that these offences are investigated
properly to ensure they haven’t been governing and imposing their mandate of
austerity through fraud and false accounting.