Investigation into PCC Alison Hernandez’s election spending is dropped by CPS

Devon and Cornwall's new Police and Crime Commisioner Alison Hernandez

Devon and Cornwall's new Police and Crime Commisioner Alison Hernandez - Credit: Archant

No charges will be brought in the investigation into the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner’s election spending.

An investigation into election spending by the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The CPS announced today (Wednesday) it has reviewed the files into Alison Hernandez and found no grounds for a criminal charge.

Nick Vamos, CPS head of special crime, said: “We have considered files of evidence from 14 police forces in respect of allegations relating to Conservative Party candidates’ expenditure during the 2015 General Election campaign.

“We considered whether candidates and election agents working in constituencies that were visited by the Party’s ‘Battle Bus’ may have committed a criminal offence by not declaring related expenditure on their local returns.

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“Instead, as the Electoral Commission found in its report, these costs were recorded as national expenditure by the party.

“We reviewed the files in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and have concluded the tests in the Code are not met and no criminal charges have been authorised.”

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Mr Vamos said in order to bring a charge, the CPS but have proved a suspect knew the expenses return was inaccurate.

He said: “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.”

Ms Hernandez has since issued a statement saying she was ‘delighted’ no charges would be brought.

She said: “It is now two years on from these events and I am pleased that the shadow of the investigation has now been removed.

“My political opponents have regularly called for me to stand down over the past year but I have been determined not to let the investigation affect the way that I carry out my duties as police and crime commissioner.

“Over the past year I have set in train actions to create 100 additional police officers, a large increase in criminal investigation capacity, more armed response officers and a new remote record taking team to free up front line officers.

“At the same time, I have stopped closures of police stations and started to reconnect the public with the police.”

Ms Hernandez said the investigation, which was carried out by West Mercia Police and reviewed by the IPCC and CPS, was a ‘very sobering experience’.

She added: “I would also like to thank my friends and family who have been a constant support over the past year and to my team in the OPCC which has supported me in being the police and crime commissioner over the last twelve months.”

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