Guardian on Devon Police and Crime Commissioner election expenses

“Investigators examining whether a police and crime commissioner failed to properly declare expenses during the last general election have referred the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Independent Police Complaints Commissionhas sent the CPS a file on the allegations against Alison Hernandez, the Devon and Cornwall police and crime commissioner.

Hernandez was an election agent for Conservative MP for Kevin Foster’s successful candidacy for the Torbay seat at the 2015 general election. Last year she was elected as the PCC for Devon and Cornwall after standing as the Tory candidate.

The IPCC revealed on Wednesday that the matter had been referred to the CPS.

A spokesperson said: “The managed investigation into allegations that Alison Hernandez failed to properly declare election expenses during the 2015 general election is complete and the matter has been referred to the CPS.

“Ms Hernandez was employed as an election agent for the Conservative candidate in the parliamentary constituency of Torbay. A referral to the CPS is made when the IPCC investigation indicates that a criminal offence may have been committed. It does not mean that criminal charges will necessarily follow. The CPS will decide whether any charges should be brought.

Q&A: what is the Conservative election expenses row about?

“The managed investigation was undertaken by West Mercia police under the direction and control of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and overseen by IPCC deputy chair Sarah Green.”

Devon and Cornwall is among a dozen police forces to have passed files to the CPS over allegations that up to 20 Conservative MPs broke local spending limits at the last general election.

Prosecutors have to decide whether to charge the MPs or their agents, after a 10-month investigation into whether party spending on an election battlebus that brought activists to marginal seats was wrongly recorded as national spending.

Andrew White, chief executive for the office of the PCC for Devon and Cornwall, said Hernandez would continue in her role while the CPS considered the case.

He added: “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 decide to charge it may be many months before any case comes to court.

“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.”

Hernandez recently published her first police and crime plan and budget after Devon and Cornwall’s biggest ever public consultation on policing.

White said: “She has made additional funds available to the chief constable to allow him to recruit an additional 100 front line police officers and recently announced a new initiative that will change the way first time offenders are treated by the criminal justice system.

“If you consider her achievements since being elected to office I believe it confirms my view that the commissioner is fully meeting her obligations to the people of Devon and Cornwall.”

Hernandez is paid a salary of £85,000 a year, a figure is set by the home secretary. She has previously worked as a councillor.

She was on the Isles of Scilly on Tuesday speaking to police and members of the public and was understood to be working in Penzance on Wednesday.

Hernandez was not available for comment.”

One thought on “Guardian on Devon Police and Crime Commissioner election expenses

  1. Just because it is legal for Alison Hernandez to stay on as PCC because there haven’t been charges yet laid and she hasn’t been found guilty, doesn’t mean it is morally right for her to stay on.

    In simple terms, to maintain the trust of the public, we expect a PCC to be above reproach, and quite clearly it has now got to the point where this is no longer true (even assuming that it was true at the point that the allegations were first made – and the evidence is much more detailed now than it was then).

    It seems that the days when an elected official had the honour and integrity to resign if there was sufficient evidence for a prosecution to be considered (or even mooted) appear to be long gone.

    Despite being a Conservative (at least until shortly before his period came to an end), I now wish that Tony “Boss” Hogg was still PCC.

    Like

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