Fury of cleared ex-police board chief
The former chairman of the Policing Board has revealed the devastating impact on his life after he was forced to stand down because of a major investigation into corruption allegations.
Barry Gilligan (60), a Belfast developer, was cleared when the office of the Public Prosecution Service confirmed there was insufficient evidence against him to prosecute. He said: "The damage caused by this investigation to my personal life, reputation, business interests and public standing has been incalculable, and the effect on my health has been profound. For three-and-a-half years I have had to suffer the ignominy of baseless, malicious rumour and innuendo."
A Dublin-based business associate, as well as an accountant working for his company, Big Picture, and a senior housing official who was suspended after the Northern Ireland Housing Executive called in the police to launch an investigation, have also been cleared.
The inquiry centred on the purchase and plans to develop land at Nelson Street, north Belfast. Mr Gilligan had applied to build more than 200 apartments.
The HE initially opposed the scheme, insisting the land was designated for social housing, but then changed its position, with one official writing to planners "withdrawing the request for social housing at the scheme".
It was at this stage the police inquiry was launched to investigate the HE's role in the planning process.
The HE's original position of opposition to the development was reinstated, but six weeks ago the Planning Appeals Commission upheld Mr Gilligan's planning application.
Mr Gilligan said: "It was clear before 2010, and reaffirmed in a recent Planning Appeals Commission decision, that it was neither Planning Service practice, nor lawful, to require an applicant for planning permission to deliver social housing."
Property developer Barry Gilligan, a founding member of the Policing Board, stood down as chairman in February 2010 in advance of undergoing heart surgery. But just a week before his planned return in August that year police raided his offices and home as part of a corruption probe. He made it clear at the time he was confident he would be vindicated.