South Thanet Conservative Craig Mackinlay will not withdraw from June 8 General Election

Craig Mackinlay, Conservative

South Thanet Conservative election candidate Craig Mackinlay will not withdraw from the June 8 election in the wake of charges being brought against him and two staff in relation to electoral overspend allegations.

The 50-year-old, who took the South Thanet seat with a 2,000 majority ahead of former UKIP leader Nigel Farage in 2015, has issued a statement to say he will continue to campaign.

‘Campaign continues’

In it he said: “My candidature in South Thanet is entirely unaffected and my campaign continues as before. I will not let this decision affect the hard work I do for my constituents and the hard work I hope to do for them after 8th June.

“Our justice system is underpinned by the presumption of innocence and I am confident that I will be acquitted.”

Mr Mackinlay said he had “acted honestly and properly whilst a candidate in 2015.”

He added that he thought the CPS decision to bring charges was “shocking” and  he was “very disappointed” with the way the case had been handled and the timing of the decision to prosecute.

CPS decision

The CPS  today released a statement confirming Mr Mackinlay and two staff are to appear in court.

Nick Vamos, CPS Head of Special Crime, said: “We have concluded there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to authorise charges against three people.

“Craig Mackinlay, 50, Nathan Gray, 28, and Marion Little, 62, have each been charged with offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983 and are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 4 July 2017.

“Criminal proceedings have now commenced and it is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

The General Election takes place on June 8. Find your South Thanet candidates here and North Thanet candidates here