CLEVELAND Police were last night attacked for prolonging the agony of detective-turned- mayor Ray Mallon.

The Northern Echo reveal-ed exclusively how Mr Mallon is expected to be cleared of criminal wrongdoing following a second review of Operation Lancet by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

But no formal announcement is to be made by the Cleveland force until the matter is discussed at the next police authority meeting, next Thursday.

It is understood that the advice of the CPS has been with Chief Constable Barry Shaw and senior members of the police authority since early last month.

Last night, Lord MacKenzie of Framwellgate, a former head of the Police Superintendents' Association, said: "The sooner they draw a line under this the better."

A supporter of Mr Mallon, June Goodchild, said: "The decision on him should be made public as soon as possible."

A source close to the force said: "It's a case of the status quo continuing on Mallon. They are looking for a way to dress up any announcement."

Mr Mallon pleaded guilty to 14 internal disciplinary charges levied against him by Cleveland Police, saying he wished to be free of the force so he could stand for Mayor of Middlesbrough.

Cleveland Police Authority then asked Mr Shaw to return files from the Lancet corruption inquiry relating to Mr Mallon to the CPS.

At the time, authority chairman Councillor Ken Walker said the request was made because, when the files were previously considered, Mr Mallon had been insisting he was innocent of any wrongdoing. Then the CPS said there was not enough evidence to prosecute the former head of Middlesbrough CID.

Yesterday, a Cleveland Police spokesman said its stance had not changed and it had no further comment to make.