former MP Tessa Munt hits back over election cash claims
former MP Tessa Munt has this week strongly denied accusations
that she broke election rules by incorrectly declaring campaign
costs during last year's General Election.
media reports claim the Lib Dem may have breached local spending
rules, potentially putting her over the spending limit.
follows very similar accusations against Burnham's Conservative
MP James Heappey in relation to his party's 2015 battle bus tour
in the constituency, as reported here.
been reported that expenses for the battle buses were not properly
declared, and in some cases should have been included in local
campaign budgets. Failing to declare expenses is an offence under
the Representation of the People Act and is punishable by a fine
and/or prison sentence.
and Somerset Police spokesman Wayne Baker told Burnham-On-Sea.com
last night: "Avon and Somerset Constabulary have received
a number of allegations in relation to improper spending in the
2015 General Election. We will be applying for an extension to
the time allowed to investigate and continue to liaise closely
with the Electoral Commission."
Tessa Munt told Burnham-on-Sea.com: "This is a totally misreported
story, and a desperate measure from the Conservatives, who are
clearly under enormous pressure."
political party allocates its Leaders Tour Bus
to local expenses. The Leaders Tour Bus is a coach that
transports the Party Leader, staff and journalists around the
country during the election. This is done by every party, and
all parties - including the Conservatives - allocate the costs
of this the Leaders Tour Bus - to national expenses."
"If this was indeed a local expense, then the costs of the
visit by David and Samantha Cameron to Wells on Bank Holiday Monday
4th May 2015 should appear on James Heappeys election expenses.
They do not. The rules are clear. The Leaders Tour Bus is
a national expense."
"Burnham-On-Sea.com covered both Nick Cleggs visit
to Wells constituency, and David Camerons here
Tessa sat on the Leaders Tour Bus once, for a media interview,
and to give Nick and his team some wonderful local Somerset cider
and Cheddar cheese."
Leaders Tour is entirely different from the complaints which
have been levelled at the Conservatives, who paid for other buses
specifically to bring activists in to campaign for particular
candidates, delivering leaflets and knocking on doors in individual
seats. This happened here in the Wells constituency."
"Transport and all expenses for those activists must be declared
as local expenses, and clearly that has not happened. This is
the subject of the Avon & Somerset Police investigation, not
the buses in which Cameron, Miliband or Nick Clegg travelled the
"The Tories really should spend more time on their own accounts,
rather than muck-raking."
James Heappey told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "I was surprised to
see reports in the media about the Liberal Democrat election expenses
in the Wells Constituency."
"The reports allege that the Lib Dem battle bus visited Brent
Knoll in my constituency where Tessa Munt posed for photos with
Paddy Ashdown and Nick Clegg before boarding the bus along with
a journalist from the Mid-Somerset News which publishes
the Wells Journal, Shepton Mallet Journal, Cheddar Valley Gazette
and Central Somerset Gazette. Nick Clegg was then interviewed
whilst the bus travelled along the M5 to Taunton about Tessa Munts
local candidature by a local journalist for a story that would
be published exclusively within the constituency and a few villages
immediately over the boundary."
welcome Avon & Somerset Polices enquiry into my expenses
and have written to the Chief Constable to offer my full support
that letter was a copy of the original email that I received from
Conservative Campaign Headquarters notifying us of the date and
time of the battle bus visit along with clear instructions that
it would be accounted for under the national party election expenses."
"Following todays reporting, my office has been contacted
by constituents who say they have complained to Avon & Somerset
Police about the Liberal Democrat election expenses for the Wells
Constituency. I know the police will want to fully investigate
those allegations too."