A FORMER MP has spoken of a ‘nightmare 18 months’ after being issued with a public apology and substantial damages from the Crown Prosecution Service.
Michael Mates, who was the MP for the Waterlooville and Petersfield area for 36 years, has also received an apology from the police after being wrongly accused of breaking election law.
The allegation came two years ago when Mr Mates joined the race to become Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
It was claimed he misrepresented himself by using a flat in Winchester as his address.
He and his wife live in West Marden, near Rowlands Castle, about 500 yards from the Hampshire border.
After an investigation by police, the CPS said that it would not be in the public interest to launch a prosecution even though a conviction was ‘a realistic possibility’.
However, in a statement, it said: ‘Following a complaint made by Mr Mates, the CPS carried out a review of this decision and it has concluded that it had been wrong to determine that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.
‘The CPS has apologised to Mr Mates for any distress and embarrassment that its wrong decision and public statement in October 2013 caused. The CPS of course accepts that Mr Mates committed no offence.’
Chief constable Andy Marsh, of Hampshire Constabulary, said: ‘If the investigation has caused Mr Mates professional or personal embarrassment or other personal difficulties then this clearly was not the intention of the police and, for that, I apologise.
‘Furthermore, I acknowledge and accept the statement of the CPS that Mr Mates is innocent of any offence.’
Mr Mates, 80, said: ‘What has been a nightmare for my wife and myself for more than 18 months is now over.
‘We had to endure the ordeal of interviews under criminal caution because of allegations that were made with malice.
‘We have endured endless delays while the various authorities kept us completely in the dark as to what was going on. I have been through six or seven appeal processes, all of which dismissed my assertions that I had done nothing wrong.’
He added: ‘This is not the way our justice system should work. I shall endeavour to ensure that lessons are learned from what has been, for us, a most upsetting experience.’