A trial date has been set for South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay and two former aides

MP Craig Mackinlay

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay and two former aides will stand trial on May 14, 2018, on charges relating to

false election expenses declarations.

Mr Mackinlay, 50, election agent Nathan Gray, 28, and party activist Marion Little, 62, have each been charged with offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983.

Mr Mackinlay faces two charges, Mr Gray one charge and Ms Little three counts.

All three have pleaded not guilty.

The accusations relate to a Channel 4 investigation which questioned the local election spend during the Conservative campaign in 2015.

The legal expense limit for South Thanet for that time-frame was £15,016.38. The Conservatives’ local expense declaration was for £14,837.

A bill of more than £18,000 for stays in two isle hotels and a hostel was not included on local expenses but attributed to national spending. This figure would have taken the party over the legal campaign limit.

Mr Mackinlay won the South Thanet seat, beating former UKIP leader Nigel Farage into second place, with a majority of almost 3,000 in 2015.

He increased that majority when he retained the seat in the June snap election with 25,262 votes ahead of Labour’s Raushan Ara who received 18,875 votes.

The trio will appear at Southwark Crown Court on May 14 for a trial which is expected to last six weeks.

The maximum sentence Mr Mackinlay could face if convicted is one year in prison or a fine.