The final person who remained under investigation over the Richard Rhodes leaked documents case has been released without charge.
Police today confirmed the woman, 50, will “face no criminal action” after being held when details emerged about trips in a chauffeur-driven car by Cumbria’s crime commissioner.
A force statement said: “The criminal investigation by Cumbria Constabulary, launched after police received concerns that information was leaked to the media relating to the police and crime commissioner, is now complete.
“A 50-year-old woman, an employee of Cumbria Constabulary, arrested on suspicion of data protection offences and misconduct in a public office on April 10 will face no criminal action.
“A misconduct investigation will now commence in relation to any internal breach of the code of conduct.
“She remains suspended from work.”
And it added: “Cumbria Constabulary’s staff and police officers have a duty to protect and manage the information they have privileged access to.
“Any allegations relating to a breach of this position need to be investigated to ensure our communities can have trust and confidence in the way we deliver policing in the county.”
Simon Orme, a specialist lawyer with the Crown Prosecution Service, explained why no charges were being brought against the woman, who was one of four people questioned as part of an inquiry launched into the leaking of information showing nearly £700 of public cash was spent on trips to take Mr Rhodes to two evening engagements. All the others were told they face no further action.
He said there was “insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction” and added: “In reaching this decision I took into account the statutory defence to this offence, which exists if an individual disclosing personal data can demonstrate that the disclosure was justified as being in the public interest.
“To rely on this defence, an individual is required to establish on the balance of probabilities that the disclosure was in the public interest. In my view, given the nature and circumstances of the disclosure, the suspect would be in a position to do so and, therefore, there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.
“We have therefore advised Cumbria police that no further action should be taken in this case.”
The case caused uproar when it first hit the headlines in April.
Mr Rhodes has since repaid the cost of the trips, saying that he would never have agreed to them had he known what the bill would be.
Amid criticism of the investigation, Mr Rhodes repeatedly said that he played no part in operational policing.
Chief Constable Bernard Lawson said earlier this year it was the force’s duty to investigate the leaking allegations.
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