Police 'reviewing correspondence' after Boris Johnson used tax-funded jet to campaign in election
- EXCLUSIVE: Police are reviewing correspondence regarding the Hartlepool by-election, a spokesperson said.
- The police say they are aware of media reports about Conservative Party spending in the by-election.
- Police stress no investigation has been opened and no inquiry is underway.
Cleveland Police have "received correspondence which is being reviewed," following disclosures by Insider about Prime Minister
The Conservative party denied any wrongdoing and insists the jet was used solely for government business.
- Insider reported Monday that a Conservative Party spending return for the Hartlepool by-election, obtained by Insider, suggested the party spent nothing on transport. Yet Johnson flew from London Stansted airport to Teesside International Airport to support his candidate on April 1. Johnson flew in a taxpayer-funded government jet. The flight was logged on FlightRadar24.
- Insider reported Thursday that a second spending return obtained by Insider, concerning the Conservatives' campaign in a different election - the Tees Valley mayor contest - also suggested the party spent nothing on transport. Johnson's visit to Hartlepool on April 1 saw him also supporting the mayoral candidate.
- In addition to his political campaigning in Hartlepool, Johnson also carried out an official visit in Middlesbrough.
The unanswered questions are: Did Johnson use a tax-funded jet to do election campaigning? And did the Conservative Party fail to declare it or pay for it?
The Ministerial Code says "where a visit is for a mixture of political and official engagements, it is important that the department and the Party each meet a proper proportion of the actual cost."
In the UK, local police forces are responsible for investigating breaches of the Representation of the People Act 1983, the primary legislation that covers candidate spending in elections.
The by-election and mayoral candidate spending returns, published by Insider, were signed by the respective candidates, Jill Mortimer MP and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, and their election agent, Diane Clarke OBE.
Police have not yet decided on a criminal inquiry
A Cleveland Police spokesperson told Insider: "We are aware of recent media reports and have received correspondence which is being reviewed."
The spokesperson stressed no investigation had been opened, nor that a criminal inquiry was taking place at this time.
A Conservative Party spokesperson said: "CCHQ (Conservative Campaign Headquarters) covered all relevant costs associated with the political visit on 1st April in accordance with the Ministerial Code, and reported relevant candidate spending in accordance with the Representation of the People's Act 1983."
"The Prime Minister's air travel to Middlesbrough was a Government organised flight, carrying the PM and civil servants to an officially organised, Government visit. It was unrelated to CCHQ campaigning activity and did not promote candidates."
Downing Street did not respond to Insider's request for comment by time of publication.
Downing Street has previously said: "All relevant costs have been correctly accounted for and appropriately proportioned. At all times Government rules and electoral requirements have been followed in relation to Ministerial visits."
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