The Electoral Commission has fined the Tories £70,000 over missing and unreported payments, it announced this morning.
An investigation, which was opened in February 2016, concluded that there were significant failures by the Conservative party to report accurately on how much it spent on campaigning at three by-elections in 2014 and at the 2015 UK Parliamentary general election.
The Conservatives' 2015 UK Parliamentary general election spending return was missing payments worth at least £104,765 and payments worth up to £118,124 were either not reported to the commission or were incorrectly reported by the party. A portion of this amount should have been included in the party’s return but wasn’t, the commission said.
The commission concluded that Mr Simon Day, the registered treasurer of the party until April 2016, committed three contraventions under section 41 and two offences under section 82(4)(b) of Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.
“Our investigation uncovered numerous failures by a large, well-resourced and experienced party to ensure that accurate records of spending were maintained and that all of the party’s spending was reported correctly," said Electoral Commission chair Sir John Holmes.
"The rules established by Parliament for political parties and their finances are there to ensure transparency and accountability. Where the rules are not followed, it undermines voters’ confidence in our democratic processes, which is why political parties need to take their responsibilities under the legislation seriously.”
He added: “This is the third investigation we have recently concluded where the largest political parties have failed to report up to six figure sums following major elections, and have been fined as a result.
"There is a risk that some political parties might come to view the payment of these fines as a cost of doing business; the commission therefore needs to be able to impose sanctions that are proportionate to the levels of spending now routinely handled by parties and campaigners.”
Labour was previously fined £20,000 for submitting incomplete returns for its General Election campaign.
Meanwhile, the commission also recently opened an investigation into spending during the EU referendum campaign.