Probe launched amid claims Tories offered Brexit Party figures peerages to stand down in election

16 November 2019, 09:46

Former shadow justice secretary Lord Falconer
Former shadow justice secretary Lord Falconer. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Scotland Yard has launched a probe into two allegations of electoral fraud amid claims the Tories offered peerages to senior Brexit Party figures to persuade them to stand down in the General Election.

Lord Falconer wrote to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and Director of Public Prosecutions calling for an investigation into what he said were "exceptionally serious allegations".

The Labour former lord chancellor said it should be looked at by police in order to maintain public confidence in the integrity of the election.

His letter to Dame Cressida Dick and Max Hill QC refers to Nigel Farage's claim that he and eight other senior figures within the Brexit Party were offered peerages.

In his letter, senior peer Lord Falconer wrote: "I wish to raise with you as a matter of urgency a number of recent reports in which senior figures in the Brexit Party have alleged that some of their candidates had been approached by the Conservative Party in an effort to persuade them to withdraw their candidacies from the upcoming General Election."

He added: "I believe these allegations raise serious questions about the integrity of the upcoming General Election, and in particular whether senior individuals at CCHQ or No. 10 have breached two sections of the Representation of the People Act 1983."

He then cites the parts of the Act which refers to "bribery" and "corruptly", inducing or procuring someone to withdraw from being a candidate at an election.

Mr Farage has claimed he had repeatedly been offered a seat in the House of Lords in an attempt to persuade him to "go quietly".

He said that when that failed, people working "deep inside Number 10" had tried to bypass him, going directly to senior Brexit Party figures and suggesting eight of them could be made peers if they could persuade him to withdraw more of his candidates.

The Metropolitan Police said: "The MPS has received two allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice in relation to the 2019 General Election.

"The MPS special enquiry team is responsible for investigating all such criminal allegations. Both allegations are currently being assessed.

"The MPS will not be providing comment about individual cases."

Lord Falconer said that as breaches of the 1983 Act may have taken place, he is "formally requesting that the Director of Public Prosecutions do institute the necessary investigations and commence such prosecutions as he sees fit".

The Prime Minister acknowledged that there may have been "conversations" between senior Tories and people in the Brexit Party, but flatly denied there had been any offers of peerages, saying that was "just not the way we operate.”

Lord Falconer's letter includes a mention of Ann Widdecombe, the former Tory MP now standing for the Brexit Party in Plymouth Sutton and Devonport.

Ms Widdecombe said she was offered a role in the Brexit negotiations if she was prepared to stand aside.

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