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Michael Mates "too old" to face court over electoral fraud allegations
8:49am Friday 18th October 2013 in Winchester
POLICE commissioner candidate Michael Mates has avoided prosecution for electoral fraud, partly because he is too old.
The Crown Prosecution Service said there was enough evidence to charge Mr Mates, who was defeated by Simon Hayes last November in the election for Hampshire commissioner.
But the 79-year-old former minister and MP reacted angrily, saying it has left him in limbo unable to fully clear his name of the charge of misrepresenting his home address.
Speaking as the Daily Echo revealed to him the CPS decision, said: “This has left me between a rock and hard place and I find it unacceptable. I would have been perfectly happy to answer any charges in court because I know I have done nothing wrong.”
In the statement, the CPS said: “Having considered the reasons why Michael Mates was at the address provided, we have determined that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction in this case.
“However, in view of the likely penalty that would be imposed, Michael Mates' age, the fact that the election did not have to be re-run and that his culpability was relatively low, we do not consider that a prosecution would be in the public interest.”
The investigation stemmed from his claim to be living in Christchurch Road, Winchester, during the campaign. His main address is near Chichester in West Sussex.
Mr Mates said: “I find it extraordinary that the CPS has said this to a journalist before letting me know. That does not seem to me to be natural justice.”
He later sent a statement to the Daily Echo: “Since it is only this newspaper which has informed me so far that the CPS has issued a statement giving reasons why they do not intend to proceed against me, I am left in the impossible position of still not knowing what it is that I am alleged to have done which is wrong.
“Having acted entirely on professional advice in the whole process, I cannot understand what it is that has caused the CPS to arrive at their decision. I do not believe that it is natural justice to be in a position where I cannot publicly justify what I did, because I have not been told what it is that I might have been accused of.”
He has complained to the Independent Police Complaints Commission about the handling of the matter by both the Hampshire and the Thames Valley police, who were called in to investigate.
The latest news comes days after the CPS announced that it would not prosecute Mr Hayes over a similar claim that he misrepresented his home address.
Mr Hayes has identified Mr Mates as the person who had complained about his alleged misrepresentation of his home address.
Mr Mates said: “I wrote to the chief constable of Hampshire saying that if you were saying about me you ought to look at him. The law must apply to all. I do not regret doing it.”
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