Thursday, August 04, 2011

A British Chief Constable and his deputy are both suspended after being arrested in corruption probe

One of Britain’s most senior police officers was arrested on suspicion of corruption yesterday. Cleveland Chief Constable Sean Price, 53, and his deputy Derek Bonnard, 45, are being quizzed by detectives investigating allegations of misconduct, abuse of position and corrupt practice.

A chief constable has not been arrested and charged with an offence since 1958.

Mr Price, who is one of the most highly paid officers in Britain thanks to a gold-plated perks package which takes his salary to £191,905, was suspended from duty along with his deputy yesterday.

The force’s former solicitor Caroline Llewellyn, who left last month after 36 years with a £213,000 redundancy payoff, was also held yesterday.

The shock arrests came after Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary asked Warwickshire Police to investigate allegations of corruption regarding business practices at the force in May this year.

The inquiry, headed by Warwickshire Chief Constable Keith Bristow, was set up to probe ‘a number of people with current or past associations with Cleveland Police Authority’.

The investigation is understood to focus on a series of contracts awarded to businesses. The decision to award a PFI maintenance contract worth £87,000 to a firm which employed the chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, Dave McLuckie, as a consultant has come under scrutiny.

In 2009, local heating and plumbing firm Combi UK won a contract to carry out maintenance work at police buildings. It is unclear who signed off the contract. Mr McLuckie, who openly acknowledged that he was paid £900 a month to advise the company about health and safety and employment issues, has denied any wrongdoing and says he took no part in the contract negotiations.

He resigned just days after the probe was launched, saying he had been subject to a ‘character assassination’. The Redcar and Cleveland councillor has also been suspended by the Labour Party pending the outcome of the probe.

In the same month, Mr Price became the subject of an unconnected investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Authority into claims he used undue influence to get a job for Mr McLuckie’s daughter in 2008 – a claim that he has strenuously denied. The officer also hit the headlines in October last year when he left his wife to set up home with his former staff officer, 39-year-old Detective Chief Inspector Heather Eastwood.

Last year Mr Price’s bumper £20,000 bonus – one of the highest awarded to any officer in the UK – provoked fury among rank-and-file officers at a time when forces faced huge cutbacks.

In 2009, it was revealed the officer, who earns a salary of £130,000, had received a ‘retention package’ worth £50,000 a year since 2006 to prevent him being poached by other forces. The father of one also received an ‘honorarium’ of £24,000 – a bonus for cutting crime by 17 per cent – £4,000 a year towards private school fees, a £32,000 car allowance and £1,000 towards private health insurance.

A spokesman for Cleveland Police Authority said the matter had been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

A spokesman for Warwickshire Police said: ‘Two men and a woman were arrested and have been taken to a police station in North Yorkshire.’

Original report here

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