Election police probe ‘a total waste of time’

Peter Chegwyn and. inset, Mark Hook
Peter Chegwyn and. inset, Mark Hook
Louis Makai. Picture: Sussex Police

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AN OPPOSITION leader questioned by police over an election offence has said the investigation was a waste of money.

Liberal Democrat leader at Gosport Borough Council, Cllr Peter Chegwyn was voluntarily interviewed by police under caution over election leaflets.

He admitted leaflets he used in the May 2012 elections had his name as the printer when in fact another party member had printed them after his machine broke.

It is an offence not to include the name and address of both printer and promoter on an election leaflet.

But Cllr Chegwyn was not arrested when he was questioned on January 31 after police at Hampshire Constabulary said they recognised it as a ‘genuine mistake’.

A police spokesman confirmed that a 56-year-old man was interviewed but said it would not be in the public interest to prosecute him for the offence.

But Cllr Chegwyn said Tory leader of the council Cllr Mark Hook had wasted police time and money with the complaint.

He said: ‘Cllr Hook complained about an election leaflet that had my name as the printer when in fact another Liberal Democrat member printed it.’

He added money had been wasted, saying it was ‘an enormous amount of police time spent on a purely political complaint’.

‘Police have no option but to investigate and they’re taking no action,’ he said.

‘I’d rather the police be out on the streets catching criminals rather than investigating whether one Liberal member or another printed a leaflet.’

But Cllr Hook said it is the duty of the police to investigate.

He said: ‘I don’t think that any police time is wasted when somebody admits to committing an offence.

‘It’s right that the police carried out the investigation and that Cllr Chegwyn was interviewed under caution.

‘If people believe that if somebody has broken the law then the police have a duty to investigate – whatever that law is.

‘If they refused to investigate then in that respect, where does anarchy start? We have a legal framework and that’s the whole purpose of it.’