Police will not investigate the leaking of details of MPs’ allowances and expenses to the Daily Telegraph, Scotland Yard said today.
Senior officers and prosecutors concluded that a criminal investigation into the matter would not be in the public interest.
The Metropolitan Police were called in by the Commons authorities after the Telegraph sparked national outrage by publishing details of MPs’ claims.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed officers from the Economic and Specialist Crime Command met senior Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) solicitors yesterday.
The panel must decide on how to tackle the wave of allegations against MPs accusing them of misusing public money.
The spokesman said: “They discussed the range of complaints, established what the assessment process will be and the nature of information that would be considered by the panel.
“There will be further regular meetings of the panel to take these matters forward. At this time, no decision has been made to start any investigation.”
Speaking about the decision not to investigate the leak, the spokesman said officers closely examined the likelihood of a successful prosecution.
He said they considered the fact that the expenses were due to be published soon.
The spokesman said: “We have considered a range of offences and although the leak of documents is not something that the MPS would condone, we have looked at the likelihood of a successful prosecution and whether a prosecution is appropriate, given other potential sanctions that might be available, such as through employment-related proceedings.
“Other considerations were the prospect of obtaining evidence and the best use of resources.
“The assessment was informed by a recent published decision from the Director of Public Prosecutions that was, in part, applicable to this case.
“From this the Metropolitan Police believes the public interest defence would be likely to prove a significant hurdle, in particular the ‘high threshold’ for criminal proceedings in misconduct in public office cases.
“Whilst the unauthorised disclosure of information would appear to breach public duty, the leaked documents do not relate to national security and much of the information was in the process of being prepared and suitably redacted for release under the Freedom of Information Act.”
The news came as the Daily Telegraph expenses scoop claimed its biggest scalp to date.
In a brief statement to the house this afternoon, Commons speaker Michael Martin said he would be stepping down on 21 June.
Telegraph Media Group declined to comment on the police statement.
Justice secretary Jack Straw told parliament today that the information commissioner was investigating the data protection implications of the leak.
He told the culture, media and sport select committee that the Telegraph had redacted the receipts and statements itself to avoid publishing sensitive information.
“As far as I know they’ve been extremely careful not to publish any of that detail. They have no interest in making any of it available,” he told the committee.
“The information commissioner is in touch with the house authorities about this.”