Goldsmith under fire for election spending

By staff

One of the Tories highest profile new MPs could find himself in the middle of an Electoral Commission investigation after questions were raised about his election spending.

The Commission confirmed it received a complaint against Zac Goldsmith, following a joint investigation into him by the newly-formed Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) and Channel 4 News.

The Richmond Park MP branded the reports “sleazy journalism” while speaking to the BBC.

The Conservatives said: “We are confident that the election expenses in question comply to the spirit and letter of election law.”

The Electoral Commission will now conduct an initial investigation and then decide whether to hold an official review.

BIJ and Channel 4 found that invoices submitted with the MP’s returns show he spent more on signs, jackets and leaflets than the amount declared on his spending returns.

The Electoral Commission set an £11,003 limit on Richmond Park candidates in the 23 days between parliament’s dissolution and the general election.

Mr Goldsmith’s returns put his total spending £220 below the £10,783 limit.

“We refute any suggestion that Zac Goldsmith was targeted simply because he is a high-profile figure,” a Channel 4 spokesman said.

“The questions we have raised relating to his expenses are entirely legitimate. The issues we found regarding Mr Goldsmith’s campaign expenses are materially different and of a different scale to those found in other returns we looked at.”

The team behind Mr Goldsmith’s campaign said many signs were used in different campaigns or before the short campaign, and that many leaflets were undistributed.

Mr Goldsmith’s financial arrangements have already created problems for the Tory leadership after the multi-millionaire was revealed to be a non-dom.