Northampton

Adam Simmonds trial: PCC 'thought information was in public domain'

Adam Simmonds Image copyright PA
Image caption Adam Simmonds spoke to Conservative colleagues about a police investigation into Wellingborough MP Peter Bone

A police and crime commissioner (PCC) disclosed information about a police inquiry into an MP as he felt it was within his remit, a court has heard.

Adam Simmonds is on trial at Southwark Crown Court, where he denies recklessly breaching the data protection act.

It is alleged he disclosed information about a fraud investigation involving Wellingborough MP Peter Bone.

Mr Simmonds said he had asked others about the probe, believing the information was in the public domain.

Talking about a conversation with Northampton North MP Michael Ellis, Mr Simmonds, who is no longer Northamptonshire PCC, said he had himself been "frustrated" about the length of time the investigation into Mr Bone was taking.

He said he had been worried Mr Bone would be "vilified" if the information had entered the media before a decision was made to charge him.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Peter Bone was questioned by police before the case was dropped

Mr Simmonds told the court: "I felt I owed something to someone under investigation to make sure the system was working."

He said he had spoken to Mr Ellis as a "mentor".

Mr Simmonds added: "I believed the information was in the public domain. People had been talking about it.

"I don't think it [the conversation] was unlawful, unhelpful, unreasonable."

Mr Simmonds, of Northcote Road in Leicester, admits having conversations with a number of Conservative colleagues including Mr Ellis, Daventry MP Christopher Heaton-Harris, former Wellingborough Borough Council leader Paul Bell and the then Northampton Borough Council leader David Mackintosh - about the investigation into fellow Tory Mr Bone.

The court heard Mr Bone had been "quite shocked" after undergoing four hours of questioning from police over allegations he and his wife Jeanette were engaged in fraud involving the care of an elderly relative in 2013.

The investigation was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service in March 2014.

The trial continues.

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