'Nightmare ends' for fraud claim MP

Witney Gazette: The CPS said there was "insufficient evidence" to bring criminal charges against Peter Bone MP and his wife The CPS said there was "insufficient evidence" to bring criminal charges against Peter Bone MP and his wife

A Conservative MP today thanked people for their support after learning that he and his wife will not face charges over allegations of fraud in connection with his mother-in-law.

Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough and Rushden, said he and his wife Jennie had been "humbled" by the support they had received.

The couple had been questioned by police in relation to a long-running dispute with Northamptonshire County Council about funding of residential care for his mother-in-law Dorothy Sweeney, which remains the subject of a civil court case.

Today the Crown Prosecution Service said it had assessed all the evidence passed to them by Northamptonshire Police and concluded there was insufficient evidence to bring any criminal charges.

Malcolm McHaffie, deputy head of the CPS special crime division, said: "Having carefully considered all of the available evidence, in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, we have decided there is insufficient evidence to charge any criminal offence.

"We were asked to consider whether there was a case for fraud by abuse of position and theft by disposal of assets belonging to the woman's mother. We were also asked to consider whether there was a case of fraud by false representation to Northamptonshire Council in relation to the mother's assets.

"The evidence showed: firstly that the woman's mother considered the suspects' conduct to be acceptable; secondly that the suspects acted openly in declaring the sale of the mother's house to the Council; thirdly that no element of dishonesty could be proved. Therefore we have advised the police to take no further action."

Mr Bone said he and his wife were "delighted" that the "nightmare" had come to an end.

In a statement today, the MP said: "First, Jennie and I have been humbled by the huge number of phone calls, texts, emails and cards we have received supporting us.

"We are so very appreciative to everyone who has contacted us. It is amazing that we have had so many members of the public, who have taken the time to get in touch, or cross the road to shake my hand; they have not always been of our political persuasion, but they have all expressed their warmest appreciation of what Jennie and I do for the constituency. It has also been interesting to hear of so many people who find themselves in a similar position to us.

"What has been so frustrating about this whole episode is that it has been going on for over a year, without an opportunity for us to clear our names. Recently, we have suffered trial by media. One newspaper in particular has printed information that is incorrect and made allegations that are totally untrue. It seems that certain newspapers feel able to print information that is without foundation, despite being told in advance that that information is factually incorrect.

"Jennie and I have just heard that we are not going to be charged with any criminal offence. This is obviously very good news and a vindication of our stance all along. As we have done nothing wrong and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) only considered the evidence, not newspaper innuendo, we have been proven innocent.

"We would also like to take this opportunity to place on record our thanks to the First Law Partnership and in particular Andy Hopkinson and Derek Johashen - their help and support has been invaluable.

"Please rest assured that I will continue to represent the people of Wellingborough and Rushden in Parliament, to the very best of my ability. Locally, I will be continuing my campaign for Rushden Lakes, for the reopening of Wellingborough Prison and the new urgent care centre at the Isebrook Hospital.

"Nationally, I will be holding the Government to account and making sure my constituents' interests are represented through the Listening Campaign. I will continue to campaign for lower immigration, an in/out EU referendum and the Government's long term economic plan.

"We are naturally delighted that this nightmare has now come to an end."

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