Three held in long-running police corruption investigation


Three people have been arrested in a long-running investigation into alleged police corruption, a spokeswoman said today.

Cleveland Police Chief Constable Sean Price and Deputy Chief Constable Derek Bonnard have already been arrested and bailed pending further inquiries into alleged wrongdoing at the force.

The investigation, Operation Sacristy, is being led by Warwickshire Police, where a spokeswoman announced that three more men were taken in for questioning last week.

She said: "A 46-year-old man in Cleveland was arrested on suspicion of fraud by abuse of position, corrupt practice, misconduct in a public office, money laundering, fraud by false representation and conspiracy to defraud.

"He was taken to a police station in North Yorkshire to be interviewed and has been bailed until a date in April 2013.

"A 65-year-old man and a 35-year-old man, at two addresses in Warrington, Cheshire, were arrested on suspicion of corrupt practice, money laundering and fraud by false representation.

"They were taken to a police station in Cheshire where they were interviewed and bailed until a date in March 2013."

Mr Price will face a Cleveland Police Authority misconduct hearing tomorrow which is separate from the criminal investigation.

Last night Mr Price claimed it has been revealed in legal documents that he is "unlikely" to face any criminal charges.

He lost a legal challenge at the High Court last week in which he argued the misconduct hearing should be delayed, as the outcome could prejudice any future criminal trial.

Mr Price, who protested his innocence, said in a statement that a letter written by a North Yorkshire Police detective revealed that Operation Sacristy may not be completed until 2014, however it was "unlikely" to lead to any criminal charges against the chief.

He said: "I have always maintained my innocence of any gross misconduct and will continue to do so at the disciplinary hearing - though I do feel criminal matters should have been resolved first."

The misconduct hearing will be held in private.