I am sending this to the Electoral Commission after reading their Case Review regarding Zac Goldsmith's Election Expenses:
Dear Electoral Commission,
re. Case review concerning campaign expenditure return in respect of Zac Goldsmith MP
I have just read your Case Review regarding the expenses of Zac Goldsmith and am, frankly, very surprised by your decision not to refer the case for prosecution.
As someone who has been an election agent on numerous occasions, including at the General Election in 2010, it has always been clear to me that it was my duty to make sure I understood the rules, read the guidance, fill in the forms in line with the guidance and only spend within the limits.
I always understood that I faced prosecution if I failed to comply with your guidance and/or spent above the election expense limts, and that the law was applied strictly.
Your Case Review sets out very clearly that a) Mr Goldsmith's agent did not fill in the forms in line with your guidance, and b) that Mr Goldsmith's campaign almost certainly overspent the short campaign limit.
Yet you conclude that it is not in the public interest for there to be a prosecution.
In paragraph 4.3 you state: "In determining whether to refer the case to the police for criminal investigation, we considered not just whether an overspend may have occurred, but also the relative amount involved and whether the aggregate expenditure for both the whole campaign period exceeded the overall spending limit. We also considered whether there was any evidence of excessive spending which was so unreasonable as to indicate a deliberate avoidance of the rules."
I am likely to be a legal agent again in the future and would therefore like some clear guidance on the following points please:
1 What is the level of overspending above the election limits that you consider to be low enough to avoid prosecution. (Please feel free to answer in either cash or percentage terms)
2 What is the level of overspending that you consider substantial enough to indicate a deliberate avoidance of the rules.(Please feel free to answer in either cash or percentage terms)
3 Is it the case that it will strengthen my defence against prosecution if I claim to have not read and/or understood your guidance and therefore fill in my election expense return forms in a confusing manner?
I would appreciate clear answers to these questions please.