Lancashire police boss cleared of over-claiming expenses

Police Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw
Police Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw

Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw has spoken of his ‘delight’ that he will not face criminal charges for over-claiming expenses as a county councillor.

The former milkman has been given the all-clear after a 12-month investigation when lawyers at the Crown Prosecution Service in London ruled he was only guilty of “errors” rather than dishonesty.

Mr Grunshaw, elected as Lancashire’s £85,000-a-year Police and Crime Commissioner in November 2012, said: “After more than 12 months of uncertainty, I am delighted with this outcome.

“Every claim I made was genuinely intentioned.”

It was alleged Mr Grunshaw had “double claimed” for trips between his home in Fleetwood and County Hall in Preston when he was both a county councillor and member of the police authority.

The discrepancies amounted to £1,550.

But the CPS decided there was insufficient evidence to prove he had been dishonest.

They ruled the 37 incorrect claims had resulted from errors on his part – and, in fact, he had failed to make 28 other claims which he was entitled to, suggesting no financial gain had been sought.

It was ruled there was no case to answer

Mr Grunshaw said: “I am 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 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.”

Mr Grunshaw has always steadfastly maintained he never intentionally submitted false expense claims.

Last night, Sam Chapman, the ex-councillor whose Freedom of Information request sparked the initial probe, called for the IPCC investigation report to be made publically available. He wrote on his blog: “The CPS notes that 37 claims made by Mr Grunshaw could potentially have been proved to be incorrect. It does not inspire confidence in a PCC who has responsibility for over £1bn of public expenditure in his term of office.”