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Scotland Investigation launched into Scottish Lib Dems' spending

ELECTIONS watchdogs have launched a probe into the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ spending in the 2016 Holyrood campaign.

The Electoral Commission confirmed it had received a complaint and was now looking at whether the party’s return was “true and accurate.”

It is understood the investigation will consider whether spending was correctly attributed between the party and the candidates.

The Liberal Democrats have insisted that all spending was “apportioned correctly,” making it clear the party has “full confidence that there is no substance to this complaint.”

Scottish prosecutors announced four months ago that no action was being taken against a Liberal Democrat MSP after Police Scotland conducted an investigation into his campaign spending.

Alex Cole-Hamilton won the Edinburgh West seat from the SNP by 2,960 votes in May 2016.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service concluded in October 2017 that no proceedings should be taken at that time following a “full and careful” look at the circumstances of the case.

Mr Cole-Hamilton, who is the Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman, fought the Edinburgh West constituency but was also a candidate on the party’s list for the Lothians region for Holyrood.

The Electoral Commission said it was “responsible for investigating potential breaches of the party spending rules” and it had waited till Police Scotland had finished “investigating potential breaches of candidate spending rules” before opening its own probe.

A spokesman for the Scottish Liberal Democrats said: “This is a classic SNP tactic when they have lost an election.

“Last year they wasted 13 months of police time with their complaint about the election in Edinburgh Western and the police found there was no case to answer.”

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