Evans’ response - and several of the other MPs identified by the Mirror gave identical replies - was to state “My election expense return for the 2015 election was completed and returned by my election agent in accordance with the law … It included all items authorised by my election agent for use in my campaign. I signed the necessary declaration on that basis … I am aware that CCHQ campaigned across the UK for the return of a Conservative Government, including in seats such as mine … Such campaigning would be part of the national return not within our local return”.
Well, up to a point. Here’s the difference: when David Cameron and George Osborne visited Crewe in the run-up to the General Election, in support of sitting Tory MP Edward Timpson, they did a visit and photo-op at a train maintenance facility outside town, but did not indulge in any canvassing. There was no walkabout, no contact with the public.
So that cannot be part of Timpson’s spending, and would rightly not have featured on the return made by his agent. But what the Road Trip volunteers were doing was very different. They were actively canvassing for the candidates in the constituencies they visited, interacting with the electorate and almost certainly at the request, or at least agreement, of the local party. They were part of the local campaign.
Therefore they should have featured on the agent’s returns for every one of those constituencies. And that is why the Tories could be in serious trouble. Moreover, the presence behind the Road Trip campaign, Mark Clarke, now expelled from the Tory Party, does not escape scrutiny: the Mirror has observed that “Tory activist India Brummitt invoiced the party £1,060 a day for her time over 10 days”.
Over a thousand quid a day “for her time”? Ms Brummitt, as Zelo Street regulars will be aware, is Mark Clarke’s long-term mistress. Not only may both of them have questions to answer about those eye-watering expense claims, but also the question has to be put to Crick and Staines - how did they both miss Ms Brummitt’s expenses? My information is that their information came from the same source.
As to the identity of that source, I will make no further comment. In the meantime, for reasons set out above, the Tories may have a lot of explaining to do.