Northern Ireland

DUP fined £4,000 over assembly election spending returns

Launch of DUP manifesto for 2016 assembly election. Arlene foster is pictured with party candidates on Stage at the Spectrum Centre. Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption The fine relates to spending on the May 2016 assembly election

The Democratic Unionist Party has been fined £4,000 by the Electoral Commission for an inaccurate spending return.

It relates to spending on the May 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election.

The return included payments of £49,200 which should not have been attributed to party spend, but as individual candidate expenditure.

The commission accepted that payments were properly reported by candidates and were duplicated in party returns.

The return was also missing two payments to the value of £400 which should have been reported.

A DUP spokesman said: "The Electoral Commission has made clear that this was a case of 'duplication'.

"The expenditure in question was mistakenly declared twice - once in the party's central campaign return and then again in the candidates' individual spending returns. This error was corrected in an amended campaign expenditure return.

"We regret that these administrative errors led to our election spend being recorded as higher than should have been the case. The party has put in place new processes to guard against this in future.

"The fine has been paid in full. The commission has confirmed this matter is now closed."

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