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No charges against newspaper’s police whistleblower

A police investigation into a woman who leaked details to a regional daily about a crime commissioner’s use of his chauffeur-driven car has concluded that no criminal charges will be brought against her.

The News and Star, Carlisle, published a story earlier this year about Cumbria police and crime commissioner Richard Rhodes using the car to take him to two evening engagements at a cost to the taxpayer of £700.

The case caused uproar when it first hit the headlines in April although Mr Rhodes has since repaid the cost of the trips.

Now a police investigation into how the information became public has concluded that no criminal action should result.

A Cumbria Police statement said: “The criminal investigation by Cumbria Constabulary, launched after police received concerns that information was leaked to the media relating to the police and crime commissioner, is now complete.

“A 50-year-old woman, an employee of Cumbria Constabulary, arrested on suspicion of data protection offences and misconduct in a public office on April 10 will face no criminal action.

“A misconduct investigation will now commence in relation to any internal breach of the code of conduct.

“She remains suspended from work.”

And it added: “Cumbria Constabulary’s staff and police officers have a duty to protect and manage the information they have privileged access to.

“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.”

The woman was one of four people questioned as part of an inquiry launched into the leaking of information about trips.

Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Simon Orme told the News and Star that the woman would have been able to argue a public interest defence in court.

He told the paper:  “In reaching this decision I took into account the statutory defence to this offence, which exists if an individual disclosing personal data can demonstrate that the disclosure was justified as being in the public interest.

“To rely on this defence, an individual is required to establish on the balance of probabilities that the disclosure was in the public interest. In my view, given the nature and circumstances of the disclosure, the suspect would be in a position to do so and, therefore, there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.”


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  • October 23, 2013 at 10:37 am

    In the wider scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter that she won’t be prosecuted. The fact she was ever threatened with prosecution is enough to deter people from whistleblowing. It’s a disgrace, and an abuse of the law. She was quite right to tell the media about a clear misuse of public funds.

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  • October 23, 2013 at 10:50 am

    So Cumbria Police would rather harass and prosecute the whistleblower than investigate its own procedures, eh? Shows where their priorities lie, then.

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