"EIGHTEEN months of hell" are over for a former Petersfield MP who has been paid "substantial damages" after being wrongly accused of breaking election law. The public apology has been made to long-time East Hampshire Tory MP Michael Mates by the Crime Prosecution Service. The police have also apologised and confirmed that Mr Mates was not guilty of any offence during his attempt to become Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in 2012. It had been claimed that Mr Mates, who has recently celebrated his 80th birthday, had broken the rules by using a flat in Winchester as his address so that he could take part in the contest. But Mr Mates, who lives in West Marden, near Rowlands Castle, just within the Hampshire border, had always maintained his innocence. For full story, see this week's Petersfield Herald.