Watchdog clears PCC over West Norfolk expenses claims

Stephen Bett Norfolk's new Police and Crime Commissioner ENGANL00120121122145829

Stephen Bett Norfolk's new Police and Crime Commissioner ENGANL00120121122145829

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Norfolk police and crime commissioner Stephen Bett has been cleared of any wrongdoing following an investigation into his expenses claims.

Mr Bett signalled his intention to stand down last summer after a complaint against him was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), but returned to work after it was determined he could not leave the post temporarily.

The case related to expenses claims totalling more than £3,000 for trips between Mr Bett’s home in Thornham, which was registered as his main office, and Norfolk Police headquarters in Wymondham over a nine-month period after he was elected commissioner in November 2012.

Although he was ordered to pay back most of the money following a review by an independent auditor, and agreed not to claim for future journeys of that type, a new investigation was carried out by the City of London Police following the referral to the IPCC.

It was confirmed this week that that inquiry has found no evidence of any criminality.

IPCC commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said: “The sole purpose of the investigation was to establish whether a criminal offence may have been committed by Mr Bett, not whether the arrangement complied with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs rules or other guidance as that does not fall within our remit.

“Mr Bett’s office has now put in place new arrangements for claiming travel expenses that should provide the level of accountability the public expects.”

Mr Bett has also welcomed the findings of the investigation.

He said: “The allegations of fraud made against me by a single individual were nonsense from the start so I am not surprised by the report’s findings in this regard.

“The IPCC report clearly shows that I took advice and guidance on my expenses claims and that I followed the policies that were then in place.”