PLAID Cymru’s three MPs have been told to declare adverts they put in newspapers a week before May’s Assembly Election as election expenses, Wales on Sunday has learned.
Elfyn Llwyd, Adam Price and Hywel Williams caused controversy in April when they took out double-page ads in a number of regional newspapers a week before the poll, despite not standing in the election.
The ads carried the message “This communication was funded by the House of Commons” and Plaid insisted they were to inform constituents of their MPs’ work.
But opposition parties questioned why, for example, Mr Williams used £8,930 of public money to take out an ad in the Daily Post newspaper – which covers all of North Wales – rather than a paper just in his constituency of Caernarfon.
The Electoral Commission has now told the three the ads were electoral and must be declared as expenses before November 2. It means the party will have to pay the money back to Parliament.
A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said: “We have advised Plaid Cymru to report the money spent on these adverts on their next return.
“They did submit returns to us by August 2, but that was the deadline for parties who spent less than £250,000 during the campaign.
“Because of the amount these adverts cost, that would put them over that limit. So they now have to submit another return by November 2. We are in dialogue with Plaid on this.”
Last night the party was still insisting it had done nothing wrong.
A spokesman for Plaid said: “The Communications Allowance was introduced by the Labour party to allow Members of Parliament to inform constituents of their work on their behalf.
“Plaid MPs individually used the allowance to issue an annual report to constituents via newspapers which covered their constituencies.
“The content, timing and use of the advertisements were approved by House authorities.”