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Police Seize Calder Valley Conservative Association Accounts

World Exclusive: Chairman resigns, Craig Whittaker MP's office to be investigated next sources say


Impolite Conversation has learned that, following an anonymous tip off, West Yorkshire Police have seized Calder Valley Conservative Association's accounts and are investigating missing invoices relating to expenses totalling around £28,000.


A resignation email to the deputy chair of the association from Charles Moran, chair of the association until today, states: "As you are aware, it has taken some time to get to the bottom of the Association's finances, a task you requested be carried out last October. Whilst there are still outstanding issues with the accounts I have submitted to the Electoral Commission, it is a best estimate and I have also copied it to Andy Stedman at Compliance. The reason I have been unable to accurately finalise the accounts is as a result of missing records that have been requested from the Treasurer on several occasions and have not been supplied. Attached to this email is a copy of a Chartered Accountant's report which states that the accounts are not being kept as they should be. There are issues regarding the recording of cash receipts, lack of cash recording with no receipts issued for payments received, missing invoices and a lack of authorisation for expenditure. Clearly the Executive has a responsibility to correct these shortcomings.


"You will also be aware of the toxic nature of my tenure as Chairman, due to the breakdown in relations with the MP and two officers of the Association. This situation is unacceptable and steps need to be taken to separate the Parliamentary Party from the Voluntary Party. The fact that the MP is able to not only access the Association's funds without authority from the Chairman or the Executive is a matter of grave concern. The Constitution is clear that all funds are controlled by the Association and its Executive, the fact that two officers are able to withdraw funds without authority is clearly in breach of the rules. The fact that I, as Chairman, am not on the mandate and neither are you, the Deputy Fund Raising and Membership, is also a matter which I consider to be unacceptable."


The screenshots below show some of the invoices that are being investigated. Page three shows payments to Scott Benton, leader of the Conservative group on Calderdale Council and a member of local MP Craig Whittaker's staff. The treasurer mentioned in email is Councillor Howard Blagbrough, who became local mayor last Wednesday and is another member of Craig Whittaker's staff. 


We spoke with Scott Benton today (26th May 2016) and asked for a comment. He said was not aware of any email or police investigation at this stage.


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