14 Jun 2013

Police send election file on Michael Mates to CPS

The Thames Valley police told me this afternoon that they’ve now sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service on the Conservative politician Michael Mates.  This follows allegations last autumn during the contest to become police and crime commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

I covered this story extensively on Channel 4 News and in this blog.  I also reported that many senior Conservatives in Hampshire were unhappy with Mr Mates’ candidature, for a number of reasons, including his past support for the convicted fraudster Asil Nadir.

Mr Mates was accused by one of his opponents in the PCC election, Don Jerrard of the Justice and Anti-Corruption party, of making a false declaration that he had moved from his home in west Sussex to an address in Winchester.  The rules for PCC elections state that candidates must be resident in the area where they are standing, in contrast to the rules for parliamentary elections.   However, when I contacted Mr Mates during the PCC campaign he still seemed to be living at his house in west Sussex.

Mr Mates, who was 79 last week, then failed to win the election in what was expected to be a reasonably safe area for the Conservatives.  An independent candidate Simon Hayes beat him on the final ballot by nearly 15,000 votes.

I understand that Thames Valley police have been exploring whether Mr Mates committed offences under two different areas of law.  The first would be making a false statement in breach of election legislation.  The second, under fraud law, of making a false statement to try and gain a pecuniary advantage (ie the paid job of PCC).  I understand the police may also have been investigating other matters thrown up by these enquiries.

The complaint against Mr Mates, during the campaign, was originally made to Hampshire police, but the force passed it on to the neighbouring Thames Valley police.  This was because the Hampshire force would have found themselves in the very embarrassing position of investigating a man who could have ended up having oversight of their activities.

The man who made the complaint against Mr Mates, Don Jerrard, is a retired City lawyer, and clearly not somebody to mess with.  His persistent complaints in recent years about the Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South, Mike Hancock, played a role in the decision by the Liberal Democrat leadership last week to suspend the party whip from Mr Hancock.  Since the PCC election Mr Jerrard has joined Ukip.

Follow @MichaelLCrick on Twitter.