A WATCHDOG has vindicated a police boss over the controversial sale of an historic number plate.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said there was no indication of wrongdoing in relation to the sale of 'AB1' and decided against investigating the matter.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion sold the plate to former Chief Constable Paul West for £160,000 in August.

However some argued that Mr Campion undersold the plate, which was the first vehicle registration number issued to the county.

The plate was also traditionally displayed on the staff cars of Worcestershire's Chief Constables.

Former Malvern councillor Clive Smith, who reported the matter to the police watchdog, said: “I’m very disappointed. At the end of the day that number plate was sold way below the market value.

“I know what those precious plates go for. It was reported there were higher offers.”

The IOPC - formerly the Independent Police Complaints Commission - decided against investigating the sale in December.

A spokesman for the watchdog said: “We have carefully assessed a referral from the West Mercia Police and Crime Panel, alongside a number of complaints, and have decided an IOPC investigation into the allegations is not required.

"It is the IOPC’s view that there was no indication of dishonesty, that relevant parties were consulted and that there was publicity in respect of the sale.

"On the information available, there is not sufficient substance to the allegations that the PCC has committed any criminal offence for the IOPC to determine that an investigation is necessary."

The spokesman added that the matter and associated complaints had been referred back to the West Mercia Police and Crime Panel.

Mr Campion previously said he has always been transparent about 'AB1', with details relating to the sale widely published.

Worcestershire was issued the 'AB1' vehicle registration in May 1903.

Mr West has promised to keep the plate within the county.