Jo Swinson: I have done nothing wrong

08-06-2017 Picture Roberto Cavieres. 
East Dunbartonshire Constituency Count
08-06-2017 Picture Roberto Cavieres. East Dunbartonshire Constituency Count

East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson has denied any wrongdoing over her campaign expenses for June’s general election.

The Liberal Democrat, who regained her seat from the SNP’s John Nicolson, returned home from holiday at the weekend to find herself under scrutiny.

It has been revealed that her spending came in at £210 below the legal limit — but reports say this was only after almost £7,000 of costs were disregarded.

The SNP said this raised “serious questions”.

However, in a statement to the Herald on Monday, Ms Swinson, who is now deputy leader of the UK Lib Dems, said she had complied with all Electoral Commission rules.

Her official declaration of expenses was within legal limits, but only after 93,000 leaflets and other material bought by the party at a cost of £2,700 went 
undelivered - thus not counting towards the total.

A further £4,040 of costs were registered as “national” spending, promoting the party generally rather than Ms Swinson’s local campaign.

The SNP said voters in East Dunbartonshire would not be fooled and has demanded the Lib Dem MP comes clean on the campaign materials that “mysteriously went unused.”

However, Ms Swinson said: “Throughout the campaign, my agent and I followed advice and checked our plans with the Liberal Democrats’ compliance team, who were in constant contact with the Electoral Commission for guidance.

“We meticulously recorded and reported our expenditure. Everything was done properly and in accordance with all the regulations.

“I make no apology for fighting as hard as I could to stop the SNP in their tracks, and the people of East Dunbartonshire delivered a very clear result.

“I know how disappointing it is to lose an election. The SNP must look to themselves for answers on why they lost so much support in East Dunbartonshire and elsewhere.”

But SNP MP Pete Wishart said: “The Lib Dems should be forthright in accounting for the 93,000 campaign materials that mysteriously went unused.

“That is a huge quantity of leaflets, newsletters and other items. What happened to them? How were they disposed of? Do the Lib Dems have receipts or any evidence these were never delivered to voters across East Dunbartonshire? If not, people will have good cause to be sceptical.”

He added: “This is clearly a very serious matter and the Lib Dems now face very serious questions in East Dunbartonshire. People have a right to know what has gone on here.”

Ms Swinson retook the seat from Mr Nicolson with a 5,339 majority. She previously lost out to Mr Nicolson in 2015.