A failed Welsh Assembly election candidate has been urged by the police to receive “advice” because of his errors over campaign expenses when he acted as agent for the Secretary of State for Wales, The Eye can reveal.
An internal document in our possession, discloses that “discrepancies” were discovered following an investigation into money spent during the campaign of Alun Cairns in the General Election last year.
The Detective Inspector who led the inquiry states in one letter: “…my recommendation is that Mr England receive suitable advice (sic) in relation to his errors…
“I have found minor discrepancies in the campaign invoices reporting.”
Mr England was agent for Mr Cairns when he was returned as MP for the Vale of Glamorgan with an increased majority over his Labour rival of 6,880.
The investigation was launched following a complaint from another candidate, Steve Reed of the Party Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol (CISTA).
South Wales Police will not pursue a criminal prosecution, yet Mr Cairns may still face a private legal action, after Mr Reed was left deeply unhappy by the police decision (see tomorrow’s story).
He said at the time: “I would expect this data (the police investigation) now to be made publicly available.
“I will be consulting a solicitor to discuss the possibility of a private prosecution.”
For the Welsh Conservatives today’s revelation will be highly embarrassing, as the police spoke to “key individuals” during their investigation, first disclosed by us.
Meanwhile Mr Reed was told by the police of the reasons no criminal prosecution of Mr Cairns expenses is to follow.
The Inspector writes to him: “I appreciate that this will be disappointing to you..”
This also comes at a very bad time for the UK Conservatives, as they have been rocked by a scandal over the money spent around Britain to elect Tories in marginal constituencies.
Nine police forces are now investigating allegations over their ‘Battlebus 2015 operation’ when activists were moved into key seats to campaign.
The Eye disclosed how the Electoral Commission was also first alerted before a police investigation under The Representation of the People Act, after concerns were raised about the General Election expenses of Glyn Davies, the MP for Montgomeryshire.
A criminal prosecution is not now being pursued.
The Montgomeryshire seat has only been Conservative twice since 1880, and voters were alarmed after a Tory visit to a major local employer in the neighbouring constituency, as well as the launch of the Welsh Conservative manifesto by the Prime Minister at the Royal Welsh Show in Llanelwedd near Builth Wells.
But accusations about Mr Cairns’ election expenses have not centred around the Battlebus, or visits to the area by leading Conservatives.
He was the focus for questions accused of incorrect reporting of costs and donations under the rules.
Initially South Wales Police encountered problems securing responses, but they have now seen all the documents needed.
Meanwhile Mr England remains a controversial figure.
The Conservatives know that in November he put a fake parking fine on the car of a Labour councillor, and called it a joke.
Mr England placed a yellow post-it note bearing the words PENALTY CHARGE NOTICE on the windscreen of Lis Burnett which had been parked outside the Conservative Party office in Barry.
Ms Burnett, who is on the Vale and Penarth councils, reviewed CCTV footage and swiftly demanded an apology.
She said: “It was interesting to see on the CCTV footage Ross England leave the Conservative office within two minutes of me leaving my car, walk down the street, lean over my car and then walk completely around the block before returning to the office.”
But Mr England said it was a “light-hearted act of protest”.
He also threatened to sue a rival candidate in the elections on May 5, the Liberal Democrat Denis Campbell, after the investigation of Mr Cairns’ election expenses was discussed on the weekly podcast ‘The Three Muckrakers’.
Perhaps Mr England needs to be given more “advice”.
Tomorrow on The Eye – why the police investigation was allegedly hampered.