Devon

MP Johnny Mercer's campaign expenditure investigated

Johnny Mercer
Image caption Police are investigating MP Johnny Mercer's election campaign expenditure

The expenses of a Devon MP are being investigated following "a number of complaints" about his campaign.

Conservative Johnny Mercer secured the Plymouth Moor View seat in May but an allegation about his campaign spending has been made to police.

Complaints were also made to the council after his election fliers were posted around the city the night before polling day costing £1,642 to clear up.

Mr Mercer paid for the clear up and said he was "assisting the police."

He said: "I am confident I haven't broken the law and this allegation is being dealt with by my lawyers."

'Commando spirit'

Plymouth City Council said it "received a number of complaints" about election campaign materials supporting Mr Mercer on "a number of locations" but said "there was insufficient evidence to take further action".

Before polling day, a statement written by Mr Mercer was posted on a website for commandos asking for "some manpower, and a decent dose of Commando Spirit" on "the night-time of 6/7 May".

Mr Mercer said "at no time" did he "mention fly posting" and was just looking for helpers to "get out the vote".

He said he paid £1,642 for the flier removal because "the local authority was out of pocket for something I ultimately benefitted from".

Some of the campaign materials found did not contain official imprints, required by law, and Plymouth City Council (PCC) referred this to the police, which said it had already advised Mr Mercer on the requirement.

'Covered in posters'

His labour opponent Alison Seabeck confirmed she complained to the council about the number of fliers being left around Plymouth and asked questions about the cost of the clean up.

She said: "I've been delivering leaflets since I was four-years-old and I've never seen flyposting on that scale.

"On polling day to suddenly wake up with every bridge and every lamppost covered in posters and fliers does influence people significantly and it is improper."

This comes as the Labour Party is due to appear in the High Court for overspending by about £6,000 on its general election campaign in Sutton and Devonport in Plymouth.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: "Police received an allegation in relation to Johnny Mercer's election campaign expenditure. Police are currently investigating this matter, and will not comment further at this time."

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