Skip to comments.British Politics: Conservative Party Campaign Manager For Nigel Farage Opponent Found Guilty
Posted on 01/10/2019 1:47:57 PM PST by Nextrush
In the 2015 General Election in the UK Nigel Farage was making a bid to be elected to the House of Commons when he led the United Kingdom Independence Party. When the results were counted election night in the South Thanet constituency it took all night as many postal ballots (absentee ballots) were counted.
In the end Conservative Party candidate Craig Mackinlay won but there was the smell of wrong doing by the Tories in this race and dozens of others across the UK.
Cases were brought against the Conservatives under British electoral laws and finally Wednesday a jury made its decision about South Thanet.
Marion Little, Mackinlay's campaign manager, was found guilty on two counts of falsifying campaign finance reports to hide illegal overspending.
Little was given a nine month suspended sentence by the judge. The judge suspended the sentence for two years because she is caring for her terminally ill husband.
The prosecutor argued that the Conservative Party fought the normally safe South Thanet seat violating campaign finance laws against Farage so they could "knock him out" of politics.
Speaking on his radio show Wednesday, Mr. Farage commented on the case.
"British politics is dominated by two big parties and despite the legislation and despite the electoral commission frankly if you're a big party and its an important seat you can just break the law with impunity because nothing is ever going to happen to you."
One pretends to be on the "Right" and one pretends to be on the "Left".
You wonder why the Trump presidency is so difficult.
Because we have and allow and are scared and tricked into thinking the two big parties are what matters.
They tell you the Dems are manure when the Republicans are excrement or Labor is manure when the Conservatives are excrement in the UK.
And when patriots come around like Mr. Farage in his countries case "the rigged system" takes them out.
Where? I don't see a link.
Are people supposed to visit your blog to get the link?
So they cannot spend more than $66,307.90 on an election seat?
I await a statement from the Electoral Commission, the CPS and Kent police as to how they justify millions of pounds of taxpayers money in pursuing me in a political show trial, he said.
Mr Justice Edis said yesterday that Little, of Ware, Hertfordshire, had been carried away by her conviction that defeating Mr Farage was an overwhelmingly important political
R v MACKINLAY, GRAY AND LITTLE MR JUSTICE EDIS SOUTHWARK CROWN COURT 9th January 2019
Marion Little is a senior and respected employee of the Conservative Party at its Central Headquarters and has been so for many years. She was able to say that she has been a friend to Prime Ministers and other very senior political figures. She has now been convicted, on overwhelming evidence, of two very serious offences of deliberately exceeding the spending limit on the short campaign in South Thanet in 2015, and then creating dishonest documents to hide what she had done. That was the election when Craig Mackinlay defeated Nigel Farage. No-one can know whether her misconduct had any effect on the outcome of that election, but she plainly intended that it would.
Her offence is made worse by the fact that she created her dishonest documents and presented them to the candidate, Craig Mackinlay, and his Agent, Nathan Gray for signing. They did so in good faith, not knowing what she had done. This placed them at grave risk of conviction, and is a significant aggravating feature in her case.
The overspend was very substantial.
The law governing the maximum permitted amount which a candidate can spend, or which can be spent on behalf of a candidate, in a General Election exists to ensure a level playing field and also to limit the extent to which the electorate can be manipulated by costly and sophisticated systems designed to spread a message on behalf of a candidate in a Parliamentary election. Our laws relating to elections are important and must be respected. The law was passed by Parliament in the Representation of the People Act 1983 to protect democracy itself. The law is enforced by criminal offences which have been created in order to discourage people from breaking the law to try to win elections. This was done because Parliament decided that it was a necessary part of a system of free and fair elections. An election in a constituency selects a member of Parliament who becomes a member of the House of Commons which is the prime body responsible for making new laws in this country. The means by which our lawmakers are selected is part of the rule of law itself.
Marion Little acted dishonestly by preparing returns which she knew were neither complete nor accurate and which falsely showed that the sum spent on the 2015 General Election short campaign in South Thanet was less than the permitted amount when it was not. I am quite satisfied that of those who worked on Mr. Mackinlays campaign, she was the author and origin of this falsehood. In short, she created false documents designed to show that Mr. Mackinlay had been elected according to law, when he had not. Neither he nor Mr. Gray, the agent, knew what she had done and both trusted her to prepare honest returns and intended to provide truthful and complete returns of the expenses.
I am satisfied that Mrs Little deliberately set about concealing the true nature of the Mackinlay campaign very soon after she arrived in South Thanet. She became the agent in all but name, but could not take over formally because that would have meant that a proportion of her salary had to be declared as an expense and she is paid more than twice what Mr. Gray was paid. Her own expenses on their own would have meant that the campaign exceeded its permitted cost. She never had any intention of declaring her own costs.
The deployment of Mrs. Littles team to South Thanet on 23rd March 2015
I am quite satisfied that between 23rd March 2015 and the 7th May 2015 Marion Little worked at least 50% of her time as campaign manager and agent (in all but name) for Craig Mackinlay. The evidence for this proposition was quite overwhelming. Not one minute of her salaried time was ever declared on the return for the short campaign. This was obviously dishonest.
It is relevant to sentencing in her case that part of her criminality resulted from an inadequate level of supervision of her work. I am satisfied that she was able to act as she did because of a culture of convenient self-deception and lack of clarity about what was permissible in law and what was not at Conservative Central Headquarters in this campaign. There appears to have been a belief that Central Headquarters staff salaries and accommodation of staff employed by Central Headquarters were a central party expense, even if those staff were living temporarily in a constituency for the duration of the election campaign. If they were spending a significant amount of time working on behalf of the candidate to try to secure his election as member of Parliament for South Thanet, this
simply is not right. No evidence emerged during this trial to suggest that senior management ever made any effort to ensure that such staff did not work on the campaign for the local candidate or to regulate what they did with the election expenses regime in mind. The evidence that centrally employed staff could not be a candidate expense was either deliberately untrue or given because these witnesses have chosen to hold this view without any proper basis at all, and because it is convenient. Mr. Mabbutt gave evidence of this subject which was more careful and more accurate than that given by Victoria Goff and Lord Gilbert. It is necessary to mention this factual conclusion I have firmly reached because it places Mrs. Littles offending in context. She was not alone in that she worked in a culture which tolerated some of what she did.
It is disappointing that when it was appreciated that South Thanet in 2015 was a unique election campaign because Nigel Farage was fighting the seat on behalf of UKIP no proper legal advice or guidance appears to have been sought by anyone about the legal consequences of deploying a Central Headquarters team to conduct the campaign on behalf of the candidate there. No proper clear instructions were given to Mrs. Little as to how she should deal with this problem.
What actually happened was that a campaign team was sent down to South Thanet on 23rd March 2015, they were accommodated in hotels in the constituency and the salaries of those who were salaried were paid, and those responsible for this decision knew that none of these costs would appear on the candidates return, even though they were working for his election campaign. They could not appear on the short campaign return because that only allowed £15,016.38 to be spent in all, and most of that sum was required for other things which had already been incurred.
This Central Headquarters campaign team which was led by Marion Little immediately set about a revamp of the local candidates campaign message. All the new Craig Mackinlay campaign literature required signing off at Conservative Central Headquarters before it could be used. All that expensive work was a direct replacement of the work which had been done by Nathan Gray, Mr. Mackinlay and others in the local association to produce the original set of campaign literature. Nathan Grays time, everyone agreed, was an election expense which should be on the return, but not, it would seem, anyones elses when replicating what he did. A degree of sophistry was deployed in defending this untenable position during this trial.
Some examples of individual acts of deceit in preparing the returns
Two invoices for the Regenerate Ramsgate leaflet, totalling £238, were simply and dishonestly left off the return by Mrs. Little. This act, on its own, was enough to commit the offences of which she was convicted in relation to the short campaign return which falsely showed expenses as having been under the limit but only by £178.23.
The treatment of the Nathan Grays remuneration and accommodation as agent in the short campaign was also dishonest. This was said to have amounted to £916.66. It should have been about 60% of the total sum earned by him during the short campaign which was the proportion he himself used to separate out his time for his work on behalf of the candidates in the Town and District Council elections in the long campaign.
This would have been £1,040, or an additional £123 or so for the return. His hotel accommodation was dishonestly buried and omitted from the return. This also was all in the short return and amounted to at least £550.
The sum actually used for the cost of campaign posters (called Correx Boards) for Mr. Mackinlay in the short return appears to have been simply invented. The jury heard about some guidance issued by the Conservative Party which suggests that generic Vote Conservative posters can be discounted by 25% to allow for their re-use in at least two subsequent elections. These were not generic posters, but posters for Mr. Mackinlay by name. The sum on the return was were not 25% of the cost of the boards and no-one was able to explain where it came from. That in the short campaign was £854, which is a significant under declaration when the headroom before the legal limit was reached was small.
In addition, therefore, to the shameless use of a more or less full time professional campaign team at no cost to the candidate which I have discussed above, there were also what might be called small time financial frauds. Documents which were inconvenient were buried and convenient numbers made up.
I have said above that the treatment of the costs of the Central Headquarters campaign team and the Battle Bus was possible because of a culture of convenient self-deception by others and a lack of proper authoritative guidance about what could, and could not, be done for a candidate without incurring a declarable expense. I should make it clear that there is no evidence that anyone other than Marion Little was aware of the dishonest calculations and concealment of invoices.
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