ADAM SIMMONDS TRIAL: Northampton MP reveals discussions with commissioner over investigation

Adam Simmonds, former Police and Crime Commissioner in Northamptonshire
Adam Simmonds, former Police and Crime Commissioner in Northamptonshire

Northampton North MP Michael Ellis said he had a "hazy recollection" of discussing an investigation into a fellow MP with former police commissioner, Adam Simmonds.

Southwark Crown Court heard that Mr Ellis discussed a criminal investigation into Wellingborough MP Peter Bone and the damage it might do to the Conservative Party with Adam Simmonds over coffee.

The details emerged during the trial of former Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Adam Simmonds.

Simmonds is accused of passing on confidential information about a criminal investigation into MP Peter Bone and his wife Jeanette between November 2013 and May 2014.

No formal charges were brought against Mr and Mrs Bone, but Mr Simmonds, from Leicester, is on trial at Southwark Crown Court, where he denies unlawfully obtaining or disclosing personal data.

Mr Ellis, who is also the deputy leader of the House of Commons, told jurors that he had a 'hazy' recollection of events but did remember discussing the investigation with Mr Simmonds on two or three occasions.

Defending, Mark Harries asked Mr Ellis: ''Was a part of the conversation the potential impact on the Conservative Party should there be a negative outcome at the conclusion of the CPS investigation and he (Mr Bone MP) were to to be charged?''

Mr Ellis said: ''It is likely that was raised, it seems logical, that would have been part of the discussion.

''It would have been of interest to the party, the party is interested in all its Members of Parliament and there would have been an interest in that.''

Mr Ellis said that he could not be certain whether Mr Simmonds was the original source from which he first became aware of the investigation into Mr Bone.

He said: ''I cannot rule it out as a possibility that someone raised the matter with me prior to Mr Simmonds.''

He added: ''I formed the impression he (Mr Simmonds) expected me to pass the information on. I cannot recall whether he asked me to.''

In a section of his witness statement read by Mr Harries, Mr Ellis said: ''I don't know why Adam spoke to me about it, I think he sees me as a figure of authority as I oversaw his PCC selection.''

Mr Harries suggested that the nature of the conversations between Mr Simmonds and Mr Ellis were in regard to the speed of the CPS investigation into Mr Bone.

Mr Ellis, who previously worked as a criminal barrister, said: ''There will have been discussion about time frames yes.

''I would have been interested in time frames I may have suggested that in the conversation.''

A second Tory MP, Christopher Heaton-Harris, who represents Daventry, also gave evidence on Wednesday and said that he first heard of the investigation into Mr Bone on November 7 2013.

He said: ''My office had received a call from the PCC to arrange a meeting. It was a very quick meeting at Portcullis House.

''It was a very brief meeting. He (Mr Simmonds) informed me there was an investigation going on into Peter Bone and that was it. There was no great detail at all, other than pleasantries nothing else was discussed.''

The court heard the reason for Mr Simmonds raising the matter with Mr Heaton-Harris was that one of his parliamentary assistants was close friends with Mr Bone and he was concerned for his welfare if the revelations were to become public.

Barry Graves, deputy mayor of the borough of Wellingborough, also gave evidence and revealed details of a 'discreet' meeting between himself and Mr Simmonds in early 2014.

Mr Graves said: ''He told us the CPS had been given three or four files which were potentially very damaging to Peter Bone. He gave us no details of what the files contained.

''He said if the case were to go to CPS and if Peter Bone was to be charged there would be serious repercussions about him being an MP.

"We were told to keep our ears and eyes open in terms of a possible replacement.''

Simmonds, of Leicester, denies the allegation. The trial continues.