Election expense complaint rejected

An intern from the Sunlight centre delivers their latest complaint

A complaint made by Eastleigh’s Independent group of councillors alleging that Chris Huhne’s election expenses had been underreported has been kicked out by elections watch dog the Electoral Commission.

The Independents had supplied a transcript of a secret audio recording of a Lib Dem party meeting in which Anne Winstanley, the party treasurer and Mr Huhne’s agent said:

“The elections have cost more than we declared”

The commission wrote to Anne Winstanley to say they considered the evidence to be insufficient saying:

“The allegation did not provide any specific evidence that Mr Huhne’s campaign expenditure was under-reported.”

Eastleigh News understands that the Independents intend to supply further material to the Electoral Commission this week.

The Electoral Commission – a QUANGO which receives £25 million a year to run a website –has also received further complaints about Mr Huhne’s election expenses brought by pressure group Sunlight Centre for Open Politics and are said to be:

“Urgently considering the allegations”

Eastleigh News understands other complaints regarding expenses may yet be forthcoming

The Independent Group of Councillors also have a complaint against Eastleigh Lib Dems which is being currently considered by the Police.

They allege that local election leaflets distributed in Eastleigh falsely claimed candidate Keith Trenchard was an experienced councillor.

Last week local media were tipped off by a Lib Dem mole that the executive committee were meeting at their constituency office to discuss recent developments.

The meeting was cancelled which led to local press waiting outside the civic offices -where area committee meetings were being conducted behind closed doors – to try and glean information.

An account of the evening was submitted by Eastleigh News to the Guido Fawkes website that formed the basis of an article which then sparked a day long war of words on Twitter between journalist Harry Cole and blogger Mark Pack.

Although the nature of the meeting at the civic offices is disputed, Eastleigh News understands at some point during the day a response to questions from a National daily newspaper reporter regarding loans made by a party member to the election campaign (and other possible complaints to the electoral commission) were formulated by the executive and emailed to the journalist at 10 pm that evening.

It’s understood  Ms Winstanley used the email to insist  that all the financial arrangements for the election were above board.

Do you have a complaint you wish to make about Eastleigh Liberal Democrats? Then why not use the comment box  below!

Photo:ycicanada

  12 comments for “Election expense complaint rejected

  1. Peter Stewart
    May 29, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    It’s not just the LibDems! OUR election campaign cost us more than we declared too! So are we going to get the Media chasing us? Of course not, because it is not what is spent on the election, but what is spent DURING THE QUALIFYING PERIOD just before the election which has to be declared. What’s more, probably 30% of Chris Huhne’s leaflets actually promote the LibDem party and that proportion of the expense is NOT legally attributable to Chris Huhne. Unless someone has analysed all the leaflets to check on the PROPORTIONS of the printed areas and exactly what they promote, it is absurd to allege over spending.

    • mm
      Eastleigh Xpress
      May 29, 2011 at 8:55 pm

      Well Pete I don’t think anyone would be too bothered about UKIP overspending because they didn’t win.

      Actually I don’t think the Electoral Commission is too bothered about anybody’s overspending.

      They exist to give guidance only – they even say that on their website.

      Zac Goldsmith was found guilty of overspending in the General Election but the commission did nothing about it because they decided the overspend was not intentional.

      So the result stood.

      Get this.

      Not only do you have to supply the evidence of overspending you have to provide evidence that it was deliberate.

      How the heck would you do that?

      I don’t see that the Lib Dems have anything to fear.

      Don’t forget that Labour’s Phil Woollas was unseated by Emlyn Watkins only after he petitioned the high court.

      The Electoral commission were not prepared to act – if it was left to them Phil Woolas would still be in the shadow cabinet.

      The Electoral commission is a toothless watchdog with neither the power nor the inclination to enforce electoral law.

      They preside over an electoral system described by a group of MPs last year as ‘The most corruptible on earth’

      That is to say a group of MPs from Kenya, Sierra Leone and Jamaica who were here as observers when they saw voters turned away from polling stations and postal vote fraud.

      http://forum.newzimbabwe.com/index.php?/topic/14784-british-electoral-system-is-possibly-the-most-corruptible-in-the-whole-world/

      The Electoral Commission also arranged for the printing of Ballot papers sufficient for only 80% of the UK electorate.

      The body responsible for campaigns to maximise voter turnout automatically disenfranchised 20% of the population so I say it’s time to axe this £25 million a year Quango!!!

  2. Anne Romaine
    May 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I thought part of the complaint was to do with loans that were not declared to the Electoral Commission. Or is that Sunlight’s complaint?

    • mm
      Eastleigh Xpress
      May 30, 2011 at 9:12 pm

      If you check the link in the story.
      Sunlight isn’t complaining about loans – I’m sure the Independents haven’t complained about loans either.
      A newspaper has been pursuing this as a line of enquiry and any impropriety has been firmly denied.
      I thought another complaint was going in – I don’t know if that’s happened yet or not.
      Sorry!
      I remain sceptical about i) the complaints themselves ii ) the willingness of the Electoral Commission to properly investigate and take action should complaints prove to be valid.
      For example – there appear to be concerns that a loan might not have been repaid.
      I’m sure if the lender isn’t bothered then the EC certainly won’t be no matter what the rules are.
      In any case – it’s not something that would have materially affected the result is it?
      Still, despite my misgivings the matter is far from over contrary to what the papers have suggested.

  3. mm
    Eastleigh Xpress
    May 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Perhaps I should add rather than the matter of the legality of any loan arrangements what intrigues me here is the suggestion that a party worker should be sinking sizeable lifetime-saving type amounts to support the campaign of a multi millionaire.
    Fascinating!

    • June 16, 2011 at 9:37 pm

      exactly my thoughts! why would anyone do that? it begs a much more serious question IE…was it to curry some sort of favor?or perhaps a business trying to get plans passed ? any answers ?

  4. mm
    Eastleigh Xpress
    May 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Would you do that?

    • May 31, 2011 at 9:38 am

      It depends what I would get out of it.?? Lets say I was offered the Deputy Leaders post for as long as I wanted it and I would be unchallanged in that role, then yes I could see the attrection for some people..!!

  5. markey
    May 31, 2011 at 11:47 am

    You are kidding Matthew! Do you seriously believe people buy position within the local party?
    And what kind of saddo would pay good money just to boss around a bunch of puffed up self important jackasses?
    Some of them can barely read or write.

  6. brian norgate
    May 31, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    “The Labour Party in Eastleigh welcomes the Electoral Commission’s decision to formally investigate the Sunlight Centre complaints. The sooner these long-standing allegations are resolved, the better it will be for the people of Eastleigh. The accusations levelled at Chris Huhne don’t do the image of British politics any favours, and frankly there are more important things we’d prefer to be focusing on locally, like the Tory-driven spending cuts supported by the Lib dems and their effect on local services and people.”

  7. Peter Stewart
    May 31, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    I’m not sure where all this fuss about loans is coming from – they are just another form of donation. As long as donations are registered on the quarterly returns and the donors are on the electoral roll, there is no problem. But loans have NOTHING to do with election expenses which is what we are talking about. As long as all monies SPENT on promoting the CANDIDATE during the qualifying period are declared, there is no problem. I reiterate, if you analyse LibDem leaflets (which any complainant must CAREFULLY do) you will find that approximately 1/3 of the printed area is actually devoted to promoting the LibDem Party NOT Chris Huhne. This means only 2/3 of the spend is actually attributable to Chris Huhne (the other 1/3 to the LibDem Party nationally). Let us for argument sake say that the LibDems did indeed spend £60,000 during the General Election. On the surface it would appear as if they overspent by £20,000! But look again CAREFULLY. If 1/3 of the total spend is attributable to the LibDem Party, then only 2/3 (or £40,000) is attributable to Chris Huhne. I believe the limit last year was £39,000. Like I say, I should be AMAZED if the LibDems had fallen into the trap of overspending.

    • June 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm

      trouble is Peter this party particularly gets very complacent when it comes to spending tax payers money, and forget at times they are on a limited budget, easy done when it is someone else’s money! Now if they had to account for every penny like some of their constituents it might be a different picture?

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