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Tories election expenses fine: Christian political groups react

Thu 16 Mar 2017
By Premier Journalist

Christians from both sides of the political divide are calling for the electoral commission to have greater powers after the Conservative party received a £70,000 fine for "numerous failings" in reporting expenses.

The election watchdog said that the Tory party had failed to accurately report its 2015 General Election expenses, suggesting that candidates may have had a "financial advantage" over their opponents.

DAVID HARTLEY/REX

 

Speaking on Premier News Hour, Conservative MP and chair of the group Christians in Politics Gary Streeter said that failures to report expenses seem to be a problem among all the major parties.

He said: "It is very regrettable - I'm not sure what's going on at the moment because the Labour party were fined earlier in the year, then the Liberal Democrats and now my own party as well."

"Something's got to happen and I suspect that the key here is increasing the sanctions so that people in these dark rooms that do all this working out and all these numbers and submitting all these accounts are absolutely terrified of getting the numbers wrong and make sure they get it right."

"There needs to be a review of election law and I think the electoral commission needs to have greater sanctions available to it."

Andy Flanagan, Director of the Christians on the Left, told News Hour the rise in fines was concerning.

"It speaks to a much wider issue. Frankly, in the UK we do have really good spending regulations in terms of election which means it's not just the rich and powerful who can stand for government.

"What's been discovered today is about a quarter of a million pounds and a fine of £70,000 isn't going to worry somebody when they are getting that much benefit from it. You fear that any political party might start to see these fines as the price for doing business."

Listen to Premier's Aaron James speaking to Gary Streeter here:

Listen to Premier's Nick Hull speaking to Andy Flanagan here:

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