Isle of Man attorney general acquitted of charges

Manx Attorney General Stephen Harding

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The Isle of Man's attorney general has been acquitted of perjury and acts against public justice.

The court was told both charges against Stephen Harding, 52, from Glen Vine, had been dropped.

A two-week retrial began on 3 February after a jury of seven failed to come to a unanimous verdict in December following the first trial.

On 15 February the second jury was dismissed by Deemster Birkett after a verdict could not be reached.

The charges, which Mr Harding has always denied, dated back to a period between April and September 2012 when he was a Manx government advocate.

The Chief Secretary's Office on the Isle of Man said: "The attorney general has been suspended from his duties pending the outcome of the trial.

"The position will now be reviewed in accordance with established internal processes."

A spokesman from the Isle of Man Constabulary said Mr Harding's acquittal was a "most unsatisfactory outcome from the perspective of both the complainants and the defendant alike".

"Thankfully the heavy burden as to the question of innocence or guilt is not a matter for the constabulary," he added.

"The members of the inquiry team were tasked with conducting a thorough and impartial investigation in seeking to collate the facts of this challenging case and that is exactly what they did.

"I am immensely proud of their professionalism, dedication and decorum."

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