Met chief faces questions over contracts worth £3m

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The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair will face questioning this week after it emerged a company owned by a close friend and skiing partner was awarded multi-million-pound police contracts.

The company, Impact Plus, first secured lucrative police technology contracts in 2002 when it was owned by Andy Miller, whose friendship with Sir Ian stretches back over the past 30 years.

A Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) spokesman said: "The MPA internal audit is aware of concerns about single tenders concerning Impact Plus and Hitachi Consulting and is currently researching the matter." While he is not under investigation, Sir Ian is likely to face questions over the contracts when he next appears before the MPA.

The contracts at the centre of the conflict of interest claims ran between 2002 and 2008 and were worth more than £3m in total. Sir Ian, deputy commissioner in 2002, chaired the panel which handed Impact Plus an initial £150,000 consultancy contract.

Sir Ian has denied any wrongdoing in relation to the contracts and yesterday released a letter written in November 2002 to the Treasurer of the MPA stating that Impact Plus was owned and run by a friend of his. He said: "I was open and straightforward in informing both the MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] and MPA about my friendship with Andy Miller prior to any contract being awarded. I strongly reject any suggestion that I have behaved inappropriately in any way and consider I have acted with absolute probity in these matters. I also wish to make it clear that former Impact Plus employee Martin Samphire, who now works for Hitachi, is not a personal friend of mine."

The latest controversy is a further blow to Sir Ian who has battled a string of controversies, including the shooting of the Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005. Ten days ago Sir Ian hit back at allegations of racial discrimination in the Metropolitan Police after a senior Asian officer said he was repeatedly overlooked for promotion in favour of a "golden circle" of white officers.