Isle of Man attorney general 'relieved' after acquittal

Manx Attorney General Stephen Harding Stephen Harding said he now needed "a period of quiet reflection"

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The Isle of Man's attorney general has said he is "shattered and relieved" after being acquitted of perjury and acts against public justice.

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

A retrial began on 3 February after a jury failed to come to a 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.

Mr Harding said he was "shattered and relieved" after what had been an "extraordinarily distressing period" for him and his family.

He added that he now needed "a period of quiet reflection" and, in the light of possible disciplinary proceedings, was unable to comment further.

'Impartial investigation'

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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