Belfast Telegraph

Officer cleared over bribe claims

A policeman has been cleared of an allegation of accepting a bribe from a restaurateur.

The Police Ombudsman also found no evidence the officer made suggestive comments to the restaurant owner's female business partner.

At the time the emails were sent, the restaurant - which has since closed - was seeking a liquor licence that the policeman subsequently objected to in court.

The PSNI had asked ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire to investigate the claims after the officer received two emails in late 2012 alleging impropriety on his part.

One was from the male owner of the restaurant who alleged that the officer had accepted £200 in £50 notes from him a few months previously.

A spokesman from the Police Ombudsman's Office explained: "He said he had been led to believe that the officer took 'favours' and stated that he believed the officer was due 'to object' on a date on which the restaurant's application for a liquor licence was due to be heard in court.

"The second email appeared to be from the man's female business partner, and alleged that the officer had made inappropriate comments during a telephone conversation.

"It alleged that the officer had asked questions that the woman found inappropriate and upsetting."

The officer forwarded the emails to his inspector, who passed them on to Dr Maguire's office for independent investigation.

The policeman went on to attend court on the date referred to in the email and opposed the restaurant's application for the transfer and renewal of a liquor licence.

The restaurant closed a short time later.

A Police Ombudsman investigator was appointed to examine the allegations against the officer. He strenuously denied wrongdoing.

The Ombudsman's Office spokesman said, over the course of three months, the investigator was unable to obtain a statement from either the male or female restaurant owner, despite "repeated attempts" via phone, by letter and via legal representatives.

"Eventually the male business owner called to say that he no longer wished to assist the investigation and would be not be making a statement," he said.

"The female owner did not contact the investigator."

A check of PSNI phone records revealed that the call between the female and the officer had not been recorded.

Both restaurant owners were subsequently questioned by police investigating the alleged bribery of an officer.

The Ombudsman's Office said that, during police interview, the man admitted sending the first email and said he had been venting his frustration and was taking a cocktail of drink and medication at the time. The woman denied any knowledge of the second email.

The Ombudsman's spokesman added: "The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, subsequently concluded that there was no evidence to support the allegations against the officer made in the emails."


From Belfast Telegraph