Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has said his party has “nothing to apologise for” after questions were raised about campaign spending by new Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine in the general election.
Ms Jardine, who won the seat from the SNP, is said to have dropped thousands from her election spending returns by allocating cash to national rather than local spending, bringing them in under the legal cap on expenditure.
Like every other candidate, I think it’s important we follow the rulesChristine Jardine MP
Deputy leader Jo Swinson, who won back her East Dunbartonshire seat from the Nationalists, is said to have used similar calculations.
Speaking during a visit to Edinburgh, Sir Vince said: “My understanding is it’s absolutely completely above reproach, that there’s absolutely no question of any impropriety and what’s happened is it’s a complex process apportioning costs, but the party has followed advice.
“There’s no question of anything wrong whatsoever, nothing to apologise for.
“As far as I’m aware no official complaints have been made and from what I understand there’s no basis for making them.”
He claimed the election spending issue affecting his party also impacted on all other political parties.
Ms Jardine, a former journalist, is understood to have allocated a third of her election material bill to national spending, because it promoted the Lib Dems rather than her specifically as the local candidate.
If that £3000 had been counted towards her constituency campaign costs, she would have been £1350 over the legal cap.
Ms Jardine insisted she had followed the rules on election expenditure.
In a radio interview she said: “Like every other candidate I think it’s important that we follow the advice and the rules of the Electoral Commission.
“The rules are there for a reason and I am confident that we have followed that advice, at all times.
“There was money which was allocated as having been spent on the national campaign, but that’s because it was spent on a national campaign.”
Ms Jardine emerged from the election with a 2988 majority over the SNP’s Toni Giugliano after former MP Michelle Thomson was ruled out as a candidate following the controversy over her property deals.
Senior SNP MP Pete Wishart said the questions over two MPs’ election expenses were “deeply embarrassing” for Sir Vince.
He said: “Vince Cable needs to get a grip of his party and explain just how widespread these practices are. The Lib Dems must start being transparent about what they spent in constituencies across Scotland or else we’ve got an emerging election expenses scandal on our hands. Do they have receipts or evidence to show how they disposed of these mystery vanishing leaflets? There is an overwhelming public interest in getting to the bottom of this.”