28 October 2005

Fraud squad search police offices

Belfast Telegraph

By David Gordon
28 October 2005

Fraud Squad detectives have stepped up their probe into alleged police service corruption by launching searches of houses and PSNI offices, it can be revealed today.

The internal investigation is examining the cancellation of a contract to supply the force's transport services wing with armour plating for police vehicles.

Police have given little away about the search operation, which was launched yesterday.

But it is understood that PSNI premises in south Belfast and Seapark, Carrickfergus were among those targeted.

A police service spokesman said: "I can confirm that searches were carried out at PSNI buildings and some houses yesterday."

The PSNI has rejected calls to bring in police fraud investigators from across the water to conduct the investigation.

It has also faced criticism for not suspending any staff members.

The probe was ordered after a High Court judge, Sir Liam McCollum, called for a criminal investigation.

He spoke out after the PSNI paid a £400,000 settlement to Northern Ireland Sheet Metal Works, the Belfast firm that was stripped of a 2001 contract to supply vehicle armour plating.

The judge said there was a "prima facie" case that "some person or persons" within the police service had "deliberately undermined" the company and "wrongfully discredited" its delivery of the contract.

He also stated that it was "difficult to attribute an innocent motive" to anyone involved in the police service's decision making process.

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