Former police commissioner 'discussed probe into Tory MP Peter Bone'

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A former police boss disclosed confidential information about a criminal investigation into a prominent Conservative MP to colleagues in the party, a court has heard.

Adam Simmonds, 40, was briefed about a fraud probe into Peter Bone in emails as part of his role as the Northamptonshire police and crime commissioner (PCC).

Jurors were told the MP for Wellingborough and his wife Jeanette were investigated over allegations relating to the payment of fees for the care of his elderly mother-in-law.

Simmonds, who was elected the Conservative PCC in 2012, is said to have discussed the case with other Tory politicians.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) did not bring any charges against Mr and Mrs Bone, but Simmonds, from Leicester, is on trial at Southwark Crown Court, where he denies unlawfully obtaining or disclosing personal data between May 1 2013 and May 1 2014.

Prosecutor Christopher Foulkes said: "In 2013, Northamptonshire Police conducted an investigation into an allegation of fraud against Mr Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, and his wife Jeanette Bone.

"Mr Bone was a prominent member of the Conservative Party and the fact there was a criminal investigation into him was the subject of rumour amongst Northamptonshire councillors and council officers."

The court heard Simmonds, who had previously worked for Northamptonshire County Council, was provided with "confidential information" as part of his role as PCC.

"He was informed from time to time about the police investigation of Mr and Mrs Bone. He was told what the investigation was about, that it was in relation to the payment of fees for the care of an elderly relative, who was in the care of the county council," Mr Foulkes said.

"Over a number of months he was kept updated on the progress of the case. After the police submitted their file to the CPS, in order that the CPS could decide whether charges should be brought, he was informed by the chief constable and his deputy as to the progress of the CPS's own consideration of the case."

Jurors were told most of the updates came when Simmonds was copied into a string of "high-level" emails sent between Chief Constable Adrian Lee and his deputy Martin Jelley.

Simmonds is said to have disclosed the data without authorisation in conversations with other Conservative politicians.

The prosecutor said Simmonds talked about the investigation with Michael Ellis, MP for Northampton North, over the phone and during an "informal chat over a cup of tea".

He then allegedly discussed the case with MP for Daventry Chris Heaton-Harris, before raising the subject with local politicians Paul Bell and David Mackintosh, who described it as a "gossip conversation".

Mr Bone made a formal complaint about Simmonds, who was charged following an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Mark Harries, defending, said there is no dispute that Simmonds received information by email and had brief conversations about the investigation.

He said that if jurors find his client did disclose personal data without consent, he will convince them he acted with the reasonable belief he had the right to, acted in reasonable belief he had the consent of the chief constable, or did so in the public interest.

The barrister said he was in no doubt the jury of nine men and three women "will be convinced he is an honest and hardworking man, whose heart is in the right place" and they should believe his word when "he tells you what happened and what he genuinely, honestly believed at the time".

The trial, which is expected to last two to three weeks, continues.