Tory Dan Byles is one of five MPs under scrutiny over election campaign costs following a joint investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Channel 4 News.
One of the many fresh faces of Westminster is Dan Byles, the new MP for North Warwickshire and Bedworth. He is a former army officer and a keen mountaineer. In 1997 he crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a 23 foot wooden rowing boat with his mother. The 101 day voyage earned him a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
The investigation has found that Mr Byles cut the cost of giant boards (bearing his name and face) in three, by charging the bulk of the cost to election campaigns in the future. This is despite the chance he might never be the candidate in that constituency again.
This cut the £2,300 bill for his posters to less than £700 on his declaration.
Peter Facey from Unlock Democracy believes this splitting of costs undermines transparency in politics.
He said: “If it has [a candidate’s] face and name… then it has to be allocated to the election that they are used in.
“You can’t simply say well we can use it in other elections because they may not be a candidate in those elections… and they may drop dead tomorrow.
“Therefore saying those costs can be allocated is very very dangerous…”
The Conservative Party told Channel 4 News: “It is often the case that boards have an assumed life of three or four campaigns. In many cases candidates will purchase signs intending to use them in future elections.
“We are confident that the election expenses in question comply with the spirit and letter of election law.”