No charges to be brought against MP and PCC

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DEVON and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez and Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh have both been cleared by the Crown Prosecution Service, following an investigation into election spending.

The CPS announced on Wednesday that it had reviewed the files into Conservatives Alison Hernandez and Marcus Fysh and found no grounds for a criminal charge.

Alison Hernandez was being investigated after she allegedly failed to file election expenses when acting as the agent for Torbay MP Kevin Foster in 2015.

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.

“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.”

Mr Vamos added: “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 12 months.”

Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh said: “We knew all along I had done nothing wrong, so I welcome this news. I hope now the attempted smears by my opposition will stop.

“It is sad that they have nothing else to offer. Theresa May’s strong and competent leadership in the national interest, continued progress on our promises in South Somerset, and keeping local people’s aspirations at the heart of Government should now be the focus.

“The only way to achieve these things in the Yeovil constituency is to vote for me.”

• Devon and Cornwall Police Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer has also been cleared of misconduct following a seven-month investigation into comments he made relating to the investigation into Ms Hernandez.

However, Mr Sawyer said his comments ‘specifically avoided reference to the police investigation into Alison Hernandez’ but added: “My views expressed to the media on that day remain the same today.

Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Chard & Ilminster Reporter | After studying for his NCTJ in Bournemouth, Peter started with the paper in June 2015 on a freelance basis, now permanently based in East Devon covering community and council news.

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