Conservative Party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin attacked the BBC at the party's Spring conference in Wales on Friday (17 March). The senior Tory, speaking at the SSE SWALEC in Cardiff, suggested that the impartial broadcaster was biased against his party.

"Let's just spend a couple of minutes thinking about the exciting year that we've had, our electoral success: Sleaford, Witney and, of course, Copeland," McLoughlin said.

"I don't mind saying that [the] Copeland [by-election victory in February] was the highlight. When you say you never know the result until that final vote is counted, I can vouch for that. I think David Dimbleby should remember it too.

"For I well remember hearing him say on [the BBC's] Question Time that Copeland was a Labour hold. Well, he does work for the BBC."

The comments come just a day after the Derbyshire Dales MP lost his temper with a Sky News reporter as he was questioned in the street over the Electoral Commission's decision to fine the party £70,000 for misreporting expenses for the 2015 general election and three by-elections in 2014.

McLoughlin pushed Darren McCaffrey's microphone away as the reporter pursued him in Westminster. "We have made a statement," the Tory chairman eventually said.

More than a dozen police forces across the UK have handed files to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to investigate the Conservatives' spending and former treasurer, Simon Day, has been reported to the Metropolitan Police by the Electoral Commission.

"The Conservative Party has complied fully with the Electoral Commission's investigation since it began more than a year ago and will pay the fines they have imposed," a spokesperson for the party said.

"This investigation and these fines relate to national spending by CCHQ, and the Conservative Party's national spending return for the 2015 general election.

"As we have consistently said, the local agents of Conservative candidates correctly declared all local spending in the 2015 general election. CCHQ accepted in March 2016 that it had made an administrative error by not declaring a small amount constituting 0.6% of our national spending in the 2015 election campaign.

"This error was subsequently corrected and the Party has since improved its accounting practices, reporting structures and staff guidance. Even taking this into account, the Conservative Party still considerably underspent the statutory national spending limits for the 2015 general election."