Two policemen arrested in fraud inquiry

One of Britain's top policemen and his deputy were arrested yesterday as part of an investigation into corruption and fraud.

Chief Constable Sean Price and Deputy Chief Constable Derek Bonnard, both of Cleveland Police, have been suspended from their posts pending an investigation into misconduct in a public office, fraud by abuse of position and corrupt practices.

They were last night being questioned by detectives at a police station in North Yorkshire, while officers searched a number of premises.

A third person, understood to be the force's former head of legal services Caroline Llewellyn, was also in custody but Warwickshire Police, which is leading the investigation, is refusing to confirm her identity or age.

It is believed the arrests are linked to an investigation into the business conduct of past and present members of Cleveland Police Authority, such as how contracts were awarded.

Warwickshire Police said: "Police officers conducting a criminal investigation into a number of people with current or past associations with Cleveland Police Authority, and the manner in which the authority may have conducted some of its business, have arrested three people on suspicion of misconduct in a public office, fraud by abuse of position and corrupt practice.

The investigation is being headed by Warwickshire's Chief Constable, Keith Bristow, with a team from North Yorkshire Police. They and Cleveland forces have refused to disclose the exact nature of the allegations.

Mr Price is already under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission for allegedly using "undue influence" to secure a job for the daughter of Dave McLuckie, the former chairman of the Cleveland Police Authority. Both men deny the allegation. Mr McLuckie, who denies any wrongdoing, resigned and it later emerged he had acted as a consultant for a plumbing and heating firm that won an £87,000 contract to provide maintenance for Cleveland police buildings. That contract is not believed to relate to yesterday's arrests.

A Cleveland Police Authority statement said: "Two chief officers have been suspended from their posts with Cleveland Police while the investigations are being considered. It should be emphasised the 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 of the two chief officers concerned."