My night­mare is fi­nally over says for­mer mayor

Peter Brit­cliffe speaks ex­clu­sively to the Ob­server af­ter po­lice say they have closed an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into sex of­fence al­le­ga­tions and that no fur­ther ac­tion is to be taken

Accrington Observer - - FRONT PAGE - JON MACPHER­SON jon.macpher­son@men-news.co.uk @JonMacMEN

A HYN­D­BURN mayor who stepped down to fight sex of­fence al­le­ga­tions has said he has been ‘liv­ing in a night­mare’ af­ter be­ing told he has no case to an­swer.

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to the Ob­server, Peter Brit­cliffe said it had been an ‘ex­tremely anx­ious time’ for his fam­ily and branded the al­le­ga­tion against him ‘wicked’.

Po­lice have con­firmed that the mat­ter has now been closed and no fur­ther ac­tion would be taken fol­low­ing a nine-month in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The for­mer Hyn­d­burn coun­cil leader strongly de­nied the al­le­ga­tions af­ter Lan­cashire Po­lice ques­tioned him in Jan­uary 2018 in re­la­tion to in­ci­dents in­volv­ing three men be­tween Jan­uary and July 2017.

He was never ar­rested or charged, but stepped aside from the may­oral of­fice in Fe­bru­ary to ‘clear his name’.

AHYN­D­BURN mayor who stepped down to fight sex of­fences al­le­ga­tions has said he has been ‘liv­ing in a night­mare’ af­ter be­ing told he has no case to an­swer.

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to the Ob­server, Peter Brit­cliffe said it had been an ‘ex­tremely anx­ious time’ for his fam­ily and branded the al­le­ga­tion against him as ‘wicked’.

Po­lice have con­firmed that the mat­ter has now been closed and no fur­ther ac­tion would be taken fol­low­ing a ninemonth in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The for­mer Hyn­d­burn coun­cil leader strongly de­nied the al­le­ga­tions af­ter Lan­cashire Po­lice ques­tioned him in Jan­uary 2018 in re­la­tion to in­ci­dents in­volv­ing three men be­tween Jan­uary and July 2017.

He was never ar­rested or charged but stepped aside from the may­oral of­fice in Fe­bru­ary to ‘clear his name’.

Coun Brit­cliffe said it was a ‘ huge relief’ and praised the ‘ over­whelm- ing’ sup­port of fam­ily, friends and col­leagues.

He told the Ob­server: “While I al­ways knew I was in­no­cent and those who know me knew the al­le­ga­tions were un­true, it has been an ex­tremely wor­ry­ing and anx­ious time for both my fam­ily and my­self.

“It was a huge shock when the po­lice ar­rived at my house to ask if I would be pre­pared to go for an in­ter­view with them.

“Ob­vi­ously it doesn’t leave you be­cause you are con­stantly think­ing about it and it makes it very dif­fi­cult for you to con­cen­trate on do­ing things like read­ing a book or watch­ing a TV pro­gramme be­cause your mind will start to drift.

“You just think this is a night­mare and you are go­ing to wake up at any minute but of course it wasn’t.

“We have been very for­tu­nate in hav­ing some tremen­dous sup­port along the way and we’ve had hun­dreds of mes­sages on Face­book which has made us feel very emo­tional and very ap­pre­cia­tive.

“I was very sorry to have stepped aside from be­ing Mayor. I never re­signed. It was a job that both my­self, (chil­dren) Sara and Do­minic loved do­ing.

“There were some spe­cial mo­ments along the way and it wasn’t all doom and gloom but I am de­lighted, as are the fam­ily, that this cloud has now lifted. We are at the other side of it now.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting back into work­ing for the Oswaldtwistle peo­ple as their county coun­cil­lor and in my role as chair of the health scru­tiny com­mit­tee at Lan­cashire County Coun­cil, at­tend­ing all the dif­fer­ent as­so­ci­a­tions and groups and get­ting in­volved again in Oswaldtwistle.”

Coun Brit­cliffe said he also hopes to be­come a lo­cal coun­cil­lor in Hyn­d­burn.

He said: “Hyn­d­burn coun­cil is some­thing which is in my blood. I would cer­tainly be hop­ing to stand again when an op­por­tu­nity arose.”

Oswaldtwistle coun­cil­lor Sara Brit­cliffe re­placed her fa­ther Peter in St Oswald’s ward at this year’s lo­cal elec­tions, end­ing a 34-year run on Hyn­d­burn coun­cil.

She said: “Our fam­ily are so glad to say that this or­deal is over.

“I want to thank ev­ery­one who be­lieved in us, ev­ery­one my fam­ily de­pended on and who sup­ported us.

“The ones who came to us when we were scared to leave the house be­cause of these aw­ful al­le­ga­tions. Now as a fam­ily we move for­ward.

“This showed that we are al­ways stronger to­gether and we will now all be able to fo­cus on what is best for the town we love. Thank you from the bot­tom of our hearts.”

A Lan­cashire Po­lice spokesman said: “In Jan­uary this year Lan­cashire Con­stab­u­lary launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion fol­low­ing com­plaints of sex­ual touch­ing in­volv­ing a 67-year-old man from Hyn­d­burn.

“A 67-year-old man from Hyn­d­burn vol­un­tar­ily at­tended a po­lice sta­tion in Jan­uary and was spo­ken to. He was not ar­rested.

“Fol­low­ing a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion the mat­ter was re­ferred to the Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice for ad­vice and it was de­cided that no fur­ther ac­tion would be taken. The mat­ter is now closed.

“The com­plainants and the 67-year-old man have been in­formed of the de­ci­sion.

“Lan­cashire Con­stab­u­lary takes all al­le­ga­tions of a sex­ual na­ture ex­tremely se­ri­ously and un­der­stands how dif­fi­cult it can be for vic­tims to have the con­fi­dence to come for­ward.

“As a Con­stab­u­lary, we are com­mit­ted to in­ves­ti­gat­ing sex­ual of­fences sen­si­tively and recog­nis­ing the im­pact that these types of crimes have on vic­tims.

“We would en­cour­age any­one who has ex­pe­ri­enced sex­ual abuse, or who has in­for­ma­tion about it, to have the con­fi­dence to re­port it to us know­ing that we will take it se­ri­ously, deal with it sen­si­tively and in­ves­ti­gate it thor­oughly.”

County coun­cil­lor Peter Brit­cliffe

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