Police boss Clive Grunshaw was starting to put his life back together today after the dark cloud of suspicion hanging over him for the past year was finally blown away.
A short statement from the Crown Prosecution Service in London cleared the former milkman of fiddling his expenses and brought to an end an ordeal which had blighted his first 12 months as Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
Lawyers in London ruled there was no case to answer on allegations he “double-claimed” travelling expenses between his home in Fleetwood and County Hall in Preston during his time as a councillor and member of the former police authority. He had only been guilty of “errors” in filling in his expenses and not dishonesty, they said.
After the news was announced Mr Grunshaw said: “After more than 12 months of uncertainty, I am delighted with this outcome. I am especially pleased with the view from the CPS that the evidence supported my version of events - which is that I never deliberately submitted any claims which I knew to be untrue. Every claim I made was genuinely intentioned.
“It has been a difficult year, but I would like to thank everyone for the support they have shown me. Following the decision, it is business as usual in my office, as it has been throughout the duration of this investigation.”
Mr Grunshaw’s nightmare began last January, just weeks into the job as Lancashire’s first police commissioner. He was accused of claiming twice for 23 trips totalling £1,200 in mileage and £350 subsistence before his election to the top police job.
The case was initially investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and, in October, it was handed over to the CPS for a decision on whether criminal charges should follow.
Yesterday, after some of the country’s top lawyers had spent more than three months examining the case in detail, they issued a statement saying there was “insufficient evidence” to show Mr Grunshaw had been dishonest and no further action would be taken.
Gemma Carsey, specialist lawyer with the CPS Special Crime Division said: “A file was submitted in October 2013 and all evidence received in mid-November 2013, in order for the CPS to consider if potential charges of fraud by false misrepresentation should be brought against Mr Clive Grunshaw.
“To prosecute this offence dishonesty must be proved. The evidence has now been considered in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and we have concluded there is insufficient evidence to prove that any claim had been submitted dishonestly and therefore there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for any relevant criminal offence.
“During the three year period Mr Grunshaw made 37 claims, out of 452 in total, which the evidence indicates could potentially have been proved to be incorrect.
“Mr Grunshaw was making claims for expenses incurred through work for three organisations and the evidence suggests errors rather than deliberacy on his part.
“In addition it appears that Mr Grunshaw did not submit around 28 claims to which he was entitled and this suggests that no financial gain was sought.
“In the light of these factors, our assessment is that there is insufficient evidence to show that any of these claims was submitted dishonestly.
“In all the circumstances of this case, therefore, we have concluded that no further action should be taken.”
Throughout his 12-month ordeal Mr Grunshaw has steadfastly maintained his innocence claiming he never intentionally submitted false expense claims.
And he called for a speedy conclusion to the investigation which, after almost 10 months in the hands of the IPCC, was then handed over to the CPS to adjudicate on whether a crime had been committed.