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British MP charged with 2015 campaign spending violation

By Eric DuVall
British MP charged with 2015 campaign spending violation
Conservative British lawmaker Craig Mackinlay (R) poses with campaign volunteers. Mackinlay was charged with violating British campaign spending limits during his 2015 campaign. Photo courtesy Craig Mackinlay via Twitter

June 2 (UPI) -- A Conservative British lawmaker was charged Friday with violating the nation's complex campaign spending limits during his 2015 campaign.

Craig Mackinlay, the Tory lawmaker who represents South Thanet in southern England, said he did nothing wrong during the 2015 race, though prosecutors investigating more than 20 fellow Conservative candidates said his financial disclosures did not meet legal standards for his travel expenses.

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Under British election law, there are separate caps for political spending on the party level and for individual candidates. Lawmakers who are campaigning on behalf of the party as a whole must report expenses separate from those related to their individual campaigns.

The investigation centered around a series of Conservative bus trips across the country that included Mackinlay and other candidates. Prosecutors said part of those expenses should have been filed on Mackinlay's personal disclosures but were not, and including them put him over the legal campaign spending limit in 2015.

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In that race, Mackinlay narrowly defeated Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, who had previously represented the district.

If convicted, Mackinlay faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

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Mackinlay denied wrongdoing and has received the support of party leaders, including Prime Minister Theresa May.

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"My candidature in South Thanet is entirely unaffected and my campaign continues as before," Mackinlay wrote on his Facebook page. "I have done nothing wrong and acted honestly and properly whilst a candidate in 2015, as all candidates do, [and] acted upon advice throughout."

In addition to Mackinlay, prosecutors filed charges against his campaign manager and a Conservative Party employee.

"The Conservative Party continues to believe that these allegations are unfounded," May said. "Craig Mackinlay is innocent until proven guilty and he remains our candidate."

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The deadline to remove Mackinlay's name from Thursday's ballot has passed and early voting is already underway.

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