THE case file into Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez’s spending at the 2015 General Election – when she was responsible for the Conservatives’ election spending in Torbay – will be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
West Mercia Police led the investigation after allegations that Ms Hernandez failed to properly declare campaign expenses when she was the Conservative Party’s election agent for Torbay in 2015.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has confirmed it intends to pass the file to the CPS.
Andrew White, chief executive for the Devon and Cornwall Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I have been informed that Ms Hernandez’s case will be referred to the CPS for its consideration.
“I want to take the opportunity to clarify a number of issues about this process to avoid any confusion.
“To ensure absolute independence, in circumstances such as these, there is a clear legal process to be followed.
“West Mercia Police carried out the investigation and not Devon and Cornwall to avoid any suggestion of bias.
“Although the case is being referred to the CPS, at this time, no decision has been made about whether charges will be laid against Ms Hernandez.
“There is no presumption that their consideration will lead to a charge and even if the CPS decides to charge it may be many months before any case comes to court.”
Mr White also said Ms Hernandez’s position as PCC would not be affected.
He said: “This referral does not prevent the commissioner from holding the position of PCC. If a charge is brought this remains the case – it would not prevent her from remaining in office.
“I am certain that some will see this as a significant stage in the investigation, but in British justice an individual is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. There is no charge, no trial and no verdict, and neither is there any impediment to the commissioner carrying out her duties as an elected representative of the people of Devon and Cornwall.”