Page last updated at 18:56 GMT, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 19:56 UK

No charges in council fraud probe

Mark Meredith
Former elected mayor Mark Meredith will not face charges

No charges are to be brought against three people held over allegations of fraud at Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Former elected mayor Mark Meredith, Councillor Rober Ibbs and businessman Mo Chaudry were arrested.

Staffordshire Police said the Crown Prosecution Service had advised no further action should be taken.

The claims concerned the council's proposed closure of the Splash Pool facility at Dimensions Leisure Centre, in Burslem.

Fact-finding mission

Mr Ibbs was arrested on suspicion of corruption in public office in February followed a month later by Mr Meredith on suspicion of misconduct in a public office and complicity in corruption while in public office.

Mr Chaudry, millionaire owner of Stoke-on-Trent attraction Waterworld, was arrested in April on suspicion of aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office.

Mr Meredith said he did not think his arrest had been justified and that the affair had a detrimental effect on civic life and the city.

"The initial fact-finding mission did clear me of any wrong doing and I think it should have been left at that.

"I don't think the council should waste any more time on the matter and it needs to move forward with improving services to the city," he said.

'Episode over'

Mr Ibbs stood down as leader of the Conservative and Independent Alliance group following his arrest.

He said he had played no part in the decision to close the Splash Pool and added it had been a difficult three months since his arrest.

"I feel pleased the whole episode is over," he said.

"There are questions I need to ask but I want to reflect on what I want to find out first," he added.

Mr Chaudry said his arrest had been a "travesty of justice".

"I am planning to meet my legal team within the next few days to review my position in regard to a number of factors," he said.

We are now considering whether any issues surrounding these inquiries need to be referred to the council's standards committee
Council spokesman

Staffordshire Police said in a statement the CPS had decided that the evidence was "not sufficient to provide a realistic prospect of convicting any of the three individuals arrested in connection with the inquiry".

The men are no longer required to answer police bail.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council said it had referred the matter to police following an internal investigation.

A spokesman said: "We are now considering whether any issues surrounding these inquiries need to be referred to the council's standards committee.

"As a result we cannot comment further on the detail of these inquiries."

In a statement, the CPS said the decision not to continue proceedings followed "a thorough investigation by Staffordshire Police who passed a file of evidence to the CPS earlier this year".

"In reaching this decision the CPS considered offences of corruption against Mr Ibbs and Mr Choudry, misconduct in public office against Mr Meredith, and aiding and abetting misconduct in public office against Mr Choudry," the statement said.

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