Eastleigh’s under fire MP Chris Huhne has been cleared of underreporting election expenses following an investigation by the electoral commission but Eastleigh’s Group of Independent councillors say they have been invited to re-submit a separate complaint.
The commission had received a complaint from the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics alleging that Lib Dem Cabinet Minster Mr Huhne and his campaign manager Councillor Anne Winstanley had underreported the cost of setting up a campaign website.
While the investigation showed this had indeed been underreported – it was only by £10 – while the cost of leaflet printing had been OVEREPORTED by £194 leaving total expenses well within the legal limits.
Additional complaints about staffing costs and the invoicing of part-printed letters were dismissed.
However the commission found minor irregularities regarding the imprints on some leaflets (the almost microscopic bit at the bottom of election leaflets with shows printer and promoter details) and they have written to Mr Huhne and Cllr Winstanley:
“In the interests of transparency to advise them of the importance of ensuring that imprints on future election material are accurate”
Both Mr Huhne and Cllr Winstanley had denied there were any problems with the election expense returns but the news will no doubt come as a relief to the MP who has also recently been helping Essex Police with their investigation into the allegations that he had persuaded his former wife to take speeding points on his behalf in 2003.
It has been reported that Essex police have now passed a file to prosecutors, a CPS spokesman told the Daily Mirror:
“A decision on whether to charge will be made in due course.”
Meanwhile the leader of the Independent Group of Eastleigh Councillors, Glynn Davies-Dear, has told Eastleigh News that he has been invited by the Electoral Commission to re-submit a separate complaint regarding Mr Huhne’s expenses – a move he says he is considering.
A spokesman for the Electoral Commission has admitted they dismissed Cllr Davies-Dears original complaint without having heard the tape recording which forms part of the evidence.
Councillor Davies-Dear says he is also considering pursuing his complaint to the Police regarding election material distributed in Eastleigh during last May’s local elections which had wrongly claimed that Lib Dem candidate Keith Trenchard was an experienced councillor.