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Police chief slams 'unlawful' probe

A police chief arrested over allegations of corruption has criticised the criminal investigation into his conduct.

Chief Constable of Cleveland Sean Price and his deputy Derek Bonnard were arrested in August and held on suspicion of misconduct in a public office, fraud by abuse of position and corrupt practice.

But the senior officer said he is the victim of a mistaken belief that he was trying to obstruct inquiries - and he said the investigation into his conduct is unlawful.

Mr Price, who remains suspended from duty while the inquiry continues, said there was "smoke, no fire, and no smoking gun".

He told Channel 4 News his arrest was "wrong minded and tragic".

He said certain documents had been obtained by the inquiry without a warrant or a court order.

He contacted Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to try and "hammer out" the problem, and was arrested soon after.

He said: "I believe I was seen as obstructing the inquiry and that was the reason why I was arrested back in August, which was incredibly wrong-minded and tragic. What I was trying to do was actually protect the inquiry, protect the police authority and protect myself because nobody wants to be part of an inquiry that is unlawfully acting."

The criminal investigation began in May after allegations against present and former members of Cleveland Police Authority (CPA). Codenamed Operation Sacristy, it has been described as a long and complex inquiry into allegations surrounding insurance claims, hospitality, and the award of police contracts from 2006 to 2009.

Mr Price learned this week his suspension on full pay would extend to April next year. He said: "It's outrageous. No allegations have been put to me. If I was looking at this from the outside I'd say there must have been a reason for arresting two senior officers. No smoke without fire, but I'm sorry; there's load of smoke here and there is no fire. And no smoking gun."


From Belfast Telegraph