Police probe finds no evidence the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth broke law

ROBES The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Cheryl Buggy on the day she took up the role in May last year
ROBES The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Cheryl Buggy on the day she took up the role in May last year
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Police in Middle Street, Portsmouth, over the weekend.

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POLICE have said there is no evidence the outgoing Lord Mayor of Portsmouth broke the law by failing to declare a financial interest.

Hampshire Constabulary has ended its enquiries into Cllr Cheryl Buggy – who was reprimanded last year after being reported to the council’s standards sub-committee.

A complaint was made by then Tory opposition leader Cllr Steve Wemyss that she had not declared consultancy work carried out by her radio station Express FM while chairing a committee examining the council’s use of consultants.

This was then referred to the police. But Portsmouth’s top policeman, Superintendent Norman Mellors, has now agreed with a report by District Auditor Kate Handy earlier this year that no further action is required.

Cllr Buggy said she believes the complaint was part of a smear campaign by an anonymous member of the public who had also made allegations about her on the internet and in emails.

She said: ‘When the district auditor issued her report I was relieved, but this has still been hanging over me since last October.

‘I have received a large number of abusive emails – it has been really difficult having all of that in the background and trying to do my job.

‘I still don’t know who did this, he or she has remained anonymous, and that is the shocking thing – to think that someone can cause all these problems and hide their identity in this cowardly way.’

She added that the city council has written to the government, in a letter signed by all three group leaders, asking if the law can be changed to allow sitting councillors to better defend themselves against allegations.

Cllr Buggy added: ‘Hopefully the hard work I have put in has not been overshadowed. The positives have outweighed the negatives, but there have been times when it was really tough and I have been close to walking away.’

But Cllr Wemyss said he was disappointed no further action would be taken.

‘She clearly broke the rules because she admitted it,’ he said.

‘So I’m not sure what kind of message this sends – that you can fail to declare an interest, on a number of occasions, and just get away with it.’

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said: ‘Police can confirm they have completed their enquiries into allegations about the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth.

‘The investigation followed accusations of an abuse of her position as a councillor. At the conclusion of the police investigation this month, there was no evidence of criminal activity by the Lord Mayor.’