Corruption arrest officers bailed

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The Independent Online

A chief constable and his deputy arrested over corruption claims were today released on bail.

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

A third person arrested - the force's former head of legal services, Caroline Llewellyn - was bailed last night.

Today a spokesman for Warwickshire Police, who are leading the inquiry, said: "Two men being interviewed by Warwickshire officers today on suspicion of misconduct in a public office, fraud by abuse of position and corrupt practice have now been released on bail to a date in October.

"The two men and a woman were arrested on 3 August.

"The woman was released on police bail late last night until a date in October."

The investigation, which is being led by officers from Warwickshire Police, began in May after allegations against present and former members of Cleveland Police Authority (CPA).

Searches were made of several premises following the three arrests early yesterday.

A CPA spokesman confirmed the two men had been suspended from their posts with Cleveland Police while the investigations were being considered.

A spokesman for the authority said: "It should be emphasised that suspension is a neutral act and it should not be inferred from the decision to suspend that the potential conduct matters have been proven in respect to the two chief officers concerned."

In suspending the officers, the authority was following "prescribed processes and procedures", the spokesman said.

He added: "The authority has taken the decision to refer these matters to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)."

Speaking in May, Mr Price said he was considering taking legal action after the IPCC announced it was investigating an allegation that he used "undue influence" to appoint a member of staff to his force.

He denied the accusation about a junior member of staff in late 2008, which he regarded as malicious, and warned that those responsible for "initiating and spreading incorrect information" could be sued for defamation.

The IPCC said the allegation came to light during a review by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary into the way some individuals within the CPA "may have conducted some of its business".

The separate criminal investigation is looking into a number of people with current or past associations with the CPA and is being conducted by Warwickshire Police's Chief Constable Keith Bristow.

Mr Price joined Merseyside Police direct from university in 1979 and began to work his way through the ranks.

He was appointed Assistant Chief Constable (Operations) with Nottinghamshire Police in September 1998 then Deputy Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire in June 2001.

He was appointed Chief Constable of Cleveland Police on March 31, 2003 where he introduced the Putting People First programme which greatly changed the way policing was delivered in Cleveland.

He received the Queen's Police Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June 2005.

Mr Bonnard was born and raised in Cleveland, joining West Yorkshire Police in 1997.

In February 2004 the 45-year-old was promoted to Assistant Chief Constable (Territorial Operations) with Cleveland Police and has recently been promoted to Deputy Chief Constable.

Ms Llewellyn received a pay-off of £213,379 when she was made redundant from her £104,871-a-year job as solicitor to Mr Price, Cleveland Police Authority's 2010/11 accounts show.