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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 19:12 GMT
Fraud squad raids Tories' offices
Christian Sweeting
Christian Sweeting's offices have been searched
Fraud squad officers have searched properties linked to a former Conservative parliamentary candidate in Devon.

Christian Sweeting, who failed to win the Torbay seat in June, has denied involvement in alleged corruption.

Devon and Cornwall Fraud Squad raided seven personal and business premises in London and Torbay on Thursday morning, all linked to Mr Sweeting and another Conservative member.

Mr Sweeting was charged with a firearms offence during the election campaign, but it was later dropped and he received 1,000 costs.

Headquarters search

Police said Thursday's search warrants were issued "in relation to allegations of corruption in respect of planning matters in Torbay."

It is understood the inquiry is still at an early stage and no-one has been arrested.

Among the premises searched was an office let to Mr Sweeting at the Torbay Conservative Association's Parkmount headquarters in Torquay.

I haven't been party to any wrongdoing regarding planning regulations

Christian Sweeting

Mr Sweeting, 33, said the searches were a complete surprise.

"I don't know the basis of the allegations, but I refute them totally," he said.

"I haven't been party to any wrongdoing regarding planning regulations.

"I am a chartered surveyor so have an interest in property in Torbay."

He had been arrested in April after going to investigate a disturbance at his mother's home in Chelston, Torquay, with an airgun.

A firearms was reduced to one of public order, which was then dropped.

He pledged his 1,000 costs award to charity.

He said of Thursday's searches: "I am an easy target, because of what happened in April, and given the circumstances of what I do for a living."

Click here to go to Devon
See also:

19 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Firearms charge against Tory dropped
18 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Charged Tory candidate to fight on
17 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Would-be Tory MP charged
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