FURIOUS Pembrokeshire County Councillors have hit out at a decision to close down a long-running fraud investigation without any prosecutions.

Dyfed-Powys Police were labelled 'deliberately obstructive' by one member while others said the five-year delay into alleged frauds relating to the Commercial Property Grants Scheme had undermined the public trust in the police, Crown Prosecution Service and council.

Described as a way to "revitalise and restore the rich heritage" of Pembroke and Pembroke Dock, the Welsh Government suspended funding for the scheme in 2014.

Developer Cathal McCosker has since paid back a significant amount of money received under the scheme.

It was Hakin councillor Mike Stoddart, who had first highlighted alleged fraud over grants to refurbish shops and business premises, including allegations that work for which grants had been received, had simply not been done.

In the council chamber on Thursday, Cllr Stoddart felt he was being blamed for detailing the case on his blog oldgrumpy.co.uk.

Cllr Stoddart told Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Cockwell that he believed he was the councillor referred to in a letter outlining a Crown Prosecution Service decision not to prosecute.

Cllr Stoddart said that the letter’s statement that unnamed councillors publishing details on blogs were “warned on numerous occasions by police not to do so as investigation was live” was incorrect.

“I was not, to my recollection, contacted directly by police.

“This letter is now in the public domain and its worded in such a way that the public will believe that I, by my actions, that it is not going to proceed.

"I want the Detective Chief Superintendent to justify this statement or withdraw,” said Cllr Stoddart, who said he thought the statement was defamatory.

DCS Cockwell attended Pembrokeshire County Council’s full council meeting and said that his understanding was that DCS Shane Williams had told a committee meeting not to publish details of a live investigation.

Cllr Jacob Williams said he was one of two, out of the 60 members, that wrote a blog and he had also had not direct contact warning him not to write about the investigation.

DCS Cockwell was grilled by other councillors on the case, with a particular focus on the delay in the investigation damaging the public trust in the police force, CPS and the council.

“There’s been a complete undermining of the public trust,” said Cllr Bob Kilmister.

Cllr Stoddart said he intended to try to bring private prosecutions in relation to other grant schemes, including £3000 paid for tiles on a flat roof that were never put on.

He added he had found Dyfed-Powys Police “deliberatively obstructive.”

He also questioned the timing of the CPS decision just after the grant funding was repaid to the council.

Cabinet Member Cllr Paul Miller added: “It sends the message that when it comes to this sort of white collar crime it’s fair game, as long as you pay it back it doesn’t matter.”

DCS Cockwell and Superintendent Ross Evans apologised for the delay in the investigation.

Council agreed to appeal the CPS decision and a “debrief” involving all three bodies, the police, council and CPS, would be arranged to discuss the matter further.