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Police rule out Prescott abuse-of-office probe

Written by: Staff

LONDON, May 10 (Reuters) Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott will not face a criminal investigation over a complaint he had abused public office by having an affair with his secretary, police said today.

Scotland Yard said the complaint had been considered carefully but that launching an investigation would be a waste of police time.

Tracey Temple, Prescott's former secretary, says the couple had sex in his Whitehall office while they were both meant to be working.

Prescott, who was stripped of his ministerial department in a government reshuffle last Friday, has admitted the affair but says many of Temple's recollections are untrue.

Retired Glasgow police officer Alistair Watson had written to Scotland Yard to say that Prescott may have committed the offence of misconduct in public office, an offence carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Watson referred to the case of a former Greater Manchester constable who was sentenced to 200 hours of community service last year for misconduct of public office after having sex with a woman at her home three times while on duty.

''The threshold around misconduct is a high one and there must be a serious departure from the accepted standards,'' said Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates in a response to Watson.

''It is considered that the potential consequences in respect of the alleged behaviour, even if proved, would not be so serious as to call for a prosecution,'' he added.

''A distinction has to be drawn between action that could potentially discredit an office holder and those actions that constitute criminality.

''Accordingly I have decided not to embark upon a criminal investigation. To do so would not I believe be a proportionate response or an appropriate use of police resources.'' REUTERS CH PC2115

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