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No action against PCC over 'leaks'

A police and crime commissioner (PCC) has been told by prosecutors he faces no further action over alleged leaks about a death in custody.

Bedfordshire PCC Olly Martins was suspended by the Labour Party last month after the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) referred an investigation into unauthorised disclosures to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Prosecutors were asked to consider whether Mr Martins should face a charge of misconduct in public office following an allegation that he passed sensitive information to his partner concerning the death in custody of 39-year-old Leon Briggs.

But the CPS has decided there is insufficient evidence to secure a conviction.

Luke Bulpitt, a specialist prosecutor with the CPS special crime and counter terrorism division, said: "In August 2014, the IPCC asked the CPS to consider whether Olly Martins, Bedfordshire's PCC, should face a charge of misconduct in public office.

"This followed an allegation that Mr Martins made an unauthorised disclosure to his partner, when they were at home, of sensitive information passed to him in his role as PCC.

"After careful consideration and a review of the evidence in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, the CPS has decided that there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction."

Mr Briggs died on November 4 last year after he was restrained and detained by Bedfordshire Police officers and taken to Luton police station.

He was arrested by officers after members of the public reported concerns about his behaviour. He reportedly fell ill and was taken from the station to Luton and Dunstable Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

On February 13 this year, the IPCC said it would examine the unauthorised disclosure of information about the circumstances surrounding the death, adding that Mr Martins had admitted sharing information about the case with a third party, who then disclosed it to others.

Bedfordshire Police referred the leak to the IPCC in December last year after it was raised by a member of the public.

An initial probe by Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Panel resulted in a written warning to Mr Martins, issued at a private meeting in January.

Mr Bulpitt added: " In any case of misconduct in public office, we would have to show that any disclosure of information was serious enough to amount to an abuse of the public's trust, particularly regarding the extent and likely consequences of the disclosure.

"The evidence is not sufficient to establish this.

"As a result, we have advised the IPCC that no further criminal action should be taken."

Mr Martins said: "I am very grateful to the CPS for the speed of their decision, a conclusion which will now draw a line under the matter.

"Having co-operated fully throughout the investigation, I hope that people will be reassured that my actions have been investigated exhaustively and due process has been followed to the letter, leading to today's outcome.

"As I have previously acknowledged, I made an error when I discussed sensitive information about the death of Leon Briggs with my partner, but I welcome the fact that the CPS has clearly established there are no criminal charges to answer.

"I was always concerned that the focus on my actions may detract from the ongoing investigation into the tragic death of Leon Briggs. That is what really matters here. His family, friends and indeed Bedfordshire Police need answers.

"This is also what the public in Bedfordshire deserve.

"Currently there are seven of their police officers and staff suspended on full pay, costing taxpayers around £26,000 per month for no benefit.

"A conclusion of the investigation, whatever the outcome, will enable that money to be used to keep our county safe. The longer this goes on, the greater the sense of injustice for all involved."

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