THE Crown Prosecution Service and Hampshire police have apologised to former Hampshire MP Michael Mates, who was wrongly accused of breaking election law.
Both have confirmed Mr Mates – East Hampshire MP for 36 years until 2010 – was not guilty of any offence during his campaign for the post of Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in 2012.
It was claimed Mr Mates, 80, had acted illegally by using a flat in St Cross, Winchester, as his address so he could take part in the contest.
After an investigation by police, the CPS said it would not be in the public interest to launch a prosecution. The CPS issued a statement: “In October 2013, the CPS considered allegations that Michael Mates…committed an offence under section 21 of the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections Order 2012.
“The CPS decided at that time that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, but that no charges should be brought as a prosecution would not be in the public interest. The CPS made a statement in October 2013, explaining its decision not to prosecute Mr Mates.
“Following a complaint made by Mr Mates, the CPS carried out a review of this decision and it has concluded that it had been wrong to determine that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.
“The CPS has apologised to Mr Mates for any distress and embarrassment that its wrong decision and public statement in October 2013 caused. The CPS of course accepts that Mr Mates committed no offence.”
Hampshire’s chief constable Andy Marsh has also apologised.
He said: “If the investigation has caused Mr Mates professional or personal embarrassment or other personal difficulties then this clearly was not the intention of the police and, for that, I apologise.
“Furthermore, I acknowledge and accept the statement of the CPS that Mr Mates is innocent of any offence.”
Mr Mates, who has accepted “substantial”
damages from the CPS, said: “What has been a nightmare for my wife and myself for more than 18 months is now over. This is not the way our justice system should work.”