No charges for whistle-blower who leaked crime commissioner chauffeur costs to News and Star

A controversial police investigation into the leaking of details of a crime commissioner’s lavish expense claims to the Cumbria News and Star will not lead to any prosecutions, it emerged yesterday.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria Richard Rhodes called for an investigation after details of his expense claims were leaked to the paper six months ago.

Leaked documents revealed how the £65,000-a-year commissioner attended two meetings in a chauffeur-drive car at a cost to the taxpayer of £700.

Three individuals were arrested in connection with the leak.

Yesterday Cumbria Police announced that a 50-year-old woman, a civilian police worker, arrested in April on suspicion of data protection offences and misconduct in a public office, would face no criminal action. She remains suspended from work.

The force said in a statement that a misconduct investigation would now begin.

Local MP Tim Farron said questions needed to be asked about the use of resources on such an investigation.

"I welcome the news that the final person who remained under investigation over the Richard Rhodes leaked documents case has been released without charge.

"This is good news and vindicates what I and others have been saying for months – that these people are whistleblowers and not criminals."

The Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale added: "The police have spent a huge amount of money and time on this investigation while disrupting the lives and careers of a number of people with arrests.

"Given that people in Cumbria sometimes feel let down by the way the police allocate resources, questions should be asked about why the force spent so much time and resources on a case that affected the constabulary itself when we have finished with no action being taken."

Rhodes had previously refused to answer any questions on the police's actions as a criminal investigation was under way.

Yesterday he maintained his silence, a spokeswoman said: "This is a matter for the constabulary."

Rhodes apologised for failing to check the near £700 cost before hiring a chauffeur-driven Mercedes to go to two evening engagements.

He made a second apology for not publishing his expense online as he should have done in the first place.

Invoices for the hire car were photocopied at police HQ and mailed to the Carlisle News and Star newspaper.

Cumbria Constabulary says it has established internal whistleblowing procedures for issues to be raised by officers and staff and is under a duty to investigate any alleged unlawful disclosure of information.

A statement from the force added: "Any allegations relating to a breach of this position need to be investigated to ensure our communities can have trust and confidence in the way we deliver policing in the county."

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