Jurors in South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay election expenses trial reconvene to consider verdict

Craig Mackinlay

The jury in the’election overspend’  trial of South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay and Conservative Party worker Marion Little reconvene today (January 2) to consider their verdicts.

Tory aide Nathan Gray was cleared by the jury at Southwark Crown Court on December 13 of falsifying an election expenses claim.

Mackinlay, 52, denies two charges of making a false election expenses declaration under the Representation of the People Act 1983.

Little, 63, of Ware, Hertfordshire, denies three counts of intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007.

The case, which began in October, centres around claims that hotel costs and other expenditure for activists and party workers were recorded as national election spending rather than local, allegedly to ensure that strict spending limits were not breached.

Jurors were told that Mr Mackinlay, Mr Gray and Ms Little were warned by party colleagues that the campaign was getting “perilously close” to breaching legal spending limits and they faced a “real prospect of a legal challenge from Farage” if they slipped up.

Declared spending on the campaign came in under the strict £52,000 limit set for the MP’s constituency.

However, prosecutors allege that about £60,000 spent on staffing, accommodation, advertising and other costs for Mr Mackinlay’s campaign was not declared.

The parliamentary seat was won by Mr Mackinlay in 2015 with a majority of around 2,800 in an electorate of 70,000.

The jury will resume their deliberations from 11am.