London (AFP) - British prosecutors said Wednesday they will not bring criminal charges against the ruling Conservative party for breaching election spending rules, in a reprieve for Prime Minister Theresa May ahead of next month's vote.
After considering files of evidence from 14 police forces across England, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that "no criminal charges have been authorised".
The elections watchdog in March issued the Conservatives with its largest ever fine -- Â£70,000 (80,000 euros, $86,000) -- for misreporting expenses for the 2015 general election and three by-elections in 2014.
The police investigations focused on whether candidates broke the law in 2015 by recording spending by busloads of party activists sent to key seats as part of national spending, not as part of more limited local budgets.
"Although there is evidence to suggest the returns may have been inaccurate, there is insufficient evidence to prove to the criminal standard that any candidate or agent was dishonest," said Nick Vamos, head of the CPS's special crime unit, in a statement.
Conservative party chairman Patrick McLoughlin welcomed the outcome, saying the allegations were "politically motivated and unfounded".
"We are pleased that the legal authorities have confirmed what we believed was the case all along: that these Conservative candidates did nothing wrong," he said.
But opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was "surprised" by the result.
While stressing the independence of the CPS, he said: "Our election laws must be enforced and must be adhered to. There are strict spending limits for a reason: so that money can't buy power."
One prosecution file, relating to the Conservatives' victory in Thanet South, in southern England, remains under consideration because it was submitted more recently than the others.
May is seeking to increase her parliamentary majority in the June 8 vote, a snap election that she called to give her a stronger mandate going into negotiations on Britain's EU exit.
The Conservatives currently have a commanding lead over Labour in opinion polls, but some analysts are forecasting they may win by a landslide, helped by Corbyn's perceived indecision on Brexit.