Belfast Telegraph

Serving police officer and former high-ranking cop arrested in fraud probe

By Chris Kilpatrick

A former high-ranking police officer and a current serving member of the force were among six men arrested by detectives investigating the awarding of contracts for PSNI vehicles.

Four were arrested in Northern Ireland, including a 48-year-old serving police officer, a 54-year-old former officer, a 37-year-old member of police staff and a 62-year-old civilian.

The Belfast Telegraph understands the serving officer is an inspector.

Two other men – both civilians, aged 34 and 54 – were detained in England and transported to Northern Ireland.

The men were arrested on suspicion of a range of offences including bribery, misconduct in public office and procuring misconduct in public office.

Searches were carried out at houses and businesses following the arrests in counties Antrim, Down and Tyrone.

A number of items were seized and taken away by police.

The suspects were taken to Antrim Serious Crime Suite for questioning by detectives.

The arrests sent shockwaves throughout the force yesterday.

Two members of the Policing Board, which is tasked with holding the PSNI to account, said they were surprised by the development, which they learned of through the media.

A spokeswoman for the body said: "The board has been informed of an ongoing PSNI investigation into the awarding of a number of PSNI vehicle contracts.

"This is a matter of very serious concern and the board will be seeking an urgent update from the Chief Constable on the progress of the investigation."

The PSNI has previously been embroiled in a controversy over procurement. In 2005, a judge called for a criminal investigation into alleged corruption within the force after a court judgment which saw a company awarded a £400,000 payout.

The judge said there was evidence someone within the police deliberately undermined the company after a contract to supply armour plating for vehicles had been cancelled by the PSNI.

A two-year investigation by the PSNI ended with a recommendation no charges be brought.

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