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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2007, 13:15 GMT
Ex-MP cleared of fraud allegation
David Prior
David Prior was MP for North Norfolk from 1997 to 2001
An ex-MP has been released from police bail and cleared of involvement in an alleged fraud at a psychiatric hospital where he was non-executive chairman.

David Prior was arrested with three others after allegations of financial irregularity at the private sector Cawston Park Hospital in Norfolk.

Mr Prior denied the allegations during a three-month investigation.

He said: "I had no knowledge of or involvement in the alleged fraud. I am and have always been totally innocent."

The former North Norfolk MP, who was also chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said he was relieved the extensive investigations found no evidence to incriminate him.

However he said: "I had been close to despair at times and feared that presumption of innocence, the cornerstone of British criminal law, had been lost at times.

Massive pressure

"The last three months have been a nightmare for my family and me in which my entire life has been turned upside down. I have found the whole process massively traumatic.

"I was arrested in the early hours of the morning, had my house searched, was questioned and held in a police cell, saw my reputation traduced in the local and national media without any opportunity to rebut the false allegations and then had to wait three months for a resolution.

"As a qualified lawyer I, of course, accept that the police have a difficult job to do and that it is inevitable that innocent men and women will be arrested and investigated.

"However, when you are innocent and on the receiving end, the process and methods employed in a police investigation put massive psychological, financial, business, family and social pressures on the individuals concerned.

"I have no complaints to make about any individual police officer. It is the process that they implement that needs reform."

Paul Forden, chief executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: "We are absolutely delighted that David Prior has been cleared of any involvement in an alleged fraud. He has been an outstanding chairman for this Trust and we always had the utmost belief in his integrity."

David Prior said he was close to despair at times.

Men in fraud probe freed on bail
15 Nov 06 |  Norfolk
Former MP in fraud probe bailed
14 Nov 06 |  Norfolk

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