Andy Preston: Former Middlesbrough mayor has all charges of financial misconduct dropped

All charges of alleged financial misconduct by former Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston have been dropped.

Last week the independent former-mayor received a summons to Teesside Magistrates Court, where he was due to appear on 21 August, to answer to four charges relating to non-disclosure of financial interests during his time as mayor.

At the time his forthcoming court appearance was reported, Mr Preston released a statement saying, “In 2021 five councillors made a complaint against me and said that I’d broken rules by not properly disclosing interests at some meetings. This wasn’t true and three of the five later withdrew their complaints.”

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He also said that Middlesbrough Council employed expert lawyers to investigate the claims who subsequently reported that he had broken no rules.

Former MIddlesbrough mayor Andy Preston.Former MIddlesbrough mayor Andy Preston.
Former MIddlesbrough mayor Andy Preston.

Mr Preston says that the same allegations were repeated to Cleveland Police in 2022 in a “politically motivated” move. He added that he believes the allegations were made to derail his ambitions to be re-elected in this year’s elections.

He was defeated by Labour’s Chris Cooke by a margin of 760 votes.

Responding to the news that the charges had been dropped, Mr Preston said: “I’m really angry because it shouldn’t have happened. There was a claim that I had broken the rules regarding financial affairs – not only did the police and CPS fail to take into account there had already been an investigation and expert lawyers found there was no case to answer but I believe they were put under political pressure.

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“It is an absolute scandal that the police inexplicably progressed the matter to the CPS, and that they then decided it should go to court and set a date.

“I want answers – not just for myself but because this case raises serious questions about the integrity of the criminal justice system, and it could happen to anyone. Lessons have to be learned because what has been allowed to happen is just plain wrong.”

Since 2016 Cleveland Police has had six different Chief Constables after a number of controversies, and were placed into special measures in 2019 after an inspection found it to be “inadequate” in all areas. They have been approached for comment.

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