Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw has been cleared of fiddling his council expenses after an investigation lasting more than a year.
The Crown Prosecution Service announced on Thursday afternoon that the former milkman, who was elected to oversee the police service in the county in November 2012, will not face prosecution on allegations he “double-charged” for journeys he made between his Fleetwood home and County Hall, Preston, during his time as a county councillor and member of the county’s police authority.
Mr Grunshaw, who has maintained his innocence all along, welcomed the decision.
He said: “After more than 12 months of uncertainty, I am delighted with this outcome.
“I am especially pleased with the view from the CPS that the evidence supported my version of events, which is that I never deliberately submitted any claims which I knew to be untrue. Every claim I made was genuinely intentioned.
It has been a difficult year, but I would like to thank everyone for the support they have shown me.”
Gemma Carsey, specialist lawyer with the CPS Special Crime Division, said: “A file was submitted in October 2013, and all evidence received in mid-November 2013, in order for the CPS to consider if potential charges of fraud by false misrepresentation should be brought against Mr Clive Grunshaw. To prosecute this offence dishonesty must be proved.
“The allegations concern a number of expenses claims made over a three year period between January 2009 and December 2012, during which time Mr Grunshaw was a member of both Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Police Authority. These expenses generally related to travel and subsistence claims for attendance at meetings for both authorities.
“The evidence has now been considered in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, and we have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prove that any claim had been submitted dishonestly, and therefore there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for any relevant criminal offence.
“During the three year period Mr Grunshaw made 37 claims, out of 452 in total, which the evidence indicates, according to the Code for Crown Prosecutors, could potentially have been proved to be incorrect.
“Mr Grunshaw was making claims for expenses incurred through work for three organisations, and the evidence suggests errors rather than deliberacy on his part. In addition it appears that Mr Grunshaw did not submit around 28 claims to which he was entitled and this suggests that no financial gain was sought.
“In the light of these factors, our assessment is that there is insufficient evidence to show that any of these claims was submitted dishonestly.
“In all the circumstances of this case, therefore, we have concluded that no further action should be taken.”
FOR THE FULL VERSION OF THE STORY AND INTERVIEW WITH CLIVE GRUNSHAW, SEE TOMORROW’S GAZETTE.