A union official at the centre of an investigation focused on the leaking of a police and crime commissioner’s (PCC) expenses has called for greater protection for whistleblowers.
It has emerged that Irene Brown – who has served as a Unison police staff official in Cumbria – was the individual at the centre of a criminal probe after it was revealed that PCC Richard Rhodes had spent £700 of public funds on trips in a chauffeur driven car.
Mr Rhodes has since repaid the money in full.
Prosecutors recently decided against action, highlighting that Ms Brown would be able to use a public interest defence – and there was no realistic prospect of conviction.
While the police staff member still faces an ongoing internal investigation, she suggested in an interview with the Daily Mail that a strong whistleblowing culture should be encouraged.
This website was unable to contact Ms Brown. But she told the national newspaper: “The public had a right to know about the expenses – how are the public supposed to hold the police and crime commissioner accountable if they don’t know what he is doing.
“I have had months of uncertainty – surely integrity should be a celebrated quality in anyone working for the police? I hope something happens to give whistleblowers more protection – I don’t want anyone else ending up where I’ve ended up.”
A Unison spokesman told PoliceOracle.com that Ms Brown had made a personal decision to speak out about the case – and that the union is no longer representing her.
He added: “Obviously we would stand behind any of our members. But Ms Brown has chosen to act on her own and we will not be commenting further.”
As previously reported, Simon Orme, Specialist Lawyer in the CPS Special Crime Division, said he had considered the case and concluded that no further action should be taken.
He added: “In doing so, I considered whether a criminal offence of obtaining or disclosing personal data had been committed by one suspect, contrary to the Data Protection Act and have determined that there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.
“In reaching this decision I took into account the statutory defence, which exists if an individual disclosing personal data can demonstrate that the disclosure was justified as being in the public interest.”
A spokeswoman for Cumbria Constabulary confirmed that an internal investigation relating to one member of police staff was ongoing and had yet to be concluded.