“Justify it or withdraw” says a councillor who feels he’s being blamed for the lack of prosecution in a grant fraud case.
Cllr Mike Stoddart told Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Cockwell today (Jul 18) that he believed he was the councillor referred to in a letter outlining a Crown Prosecution Service decision not to prosecute in the Pembroke Dock grant scheme allegations.
Cllr Stoddart said that the letter’s statement that unnamed councillors publishing details on blogs were “warned on numerous occasions by police not to do so as the investigation was live” was incorrect.
“I was not, to my recollection, contacted directly by police.
“This letter is now in the public domain and its worded in such a way that the public will believe that, by my actions, that it is not going to proceed. I want the Detective Chief Superintendent to justify this statement or withdraw,” said Cllr Stoddart, adding it was defamatory.
DCS Cockwell attended Pembrokeshire County Council’s full council meeting on Thursday (Jul 18) and said that his understanding was that DCS Shane Williams had told a committee meeting not to publish details of a live investigation.
Cllr Jacob Williams said he was one of two, out of 60 members, that wrote a blog and he had no direct contact warning him not to write about the investigation.
DCS Cockwell was grilled by other councillors on the case, with a particular focus on the delay in the case damaging the public trust in the police force, CPS and the council.
“There’s been a complete undermining of the public trust,” said Cllr Bob Kilmister.
Cllr Stoddart said he intended to try and bring private prosecutions in relation to other grant schemes, including £3000 paid for tiles on a flat roof that were never put on.
He added he had found Dyfed-Powys Police “deliberatively obstructive.”
He also questioned the timing of the CPS decision just after the suspect grant funding was repaid to the council.
Cllr Paul Miller added: “It sends the message that when it comes to this sort of white-collar crime it’s fair game, as long as you pay it back it doesn’t matter.”
DCS Cockwell and Superintendent Ross Evans apologised for the delay in the investigation.
Council agreed to appeal the CPS decision and a “debrief” involving all three bodies, the police, council and CPS, would be arranged to discuss the matter further.