THE former chief constable of Cleveland Police and his deputy have dropped legal action over claims they were wrongfully arrested.

However Sean Price and Derek Bonnard said tonight that they intend to restart their civil claim at a later date.

The pair, along with the force's former solicitor Caroline Llewellyn, were detained for questioning following early morning raids on their homes in August 2011.

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The raids were part of Operation Sacristy, an 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.

In May 2012, the two men announced that they were to sue Keith Bristow, director general of the National Crime Agency in his capacity as head of Operation Sacristy, as well as three police forces - North Yorkshire, Warwickshire and West Yorkshire.

But today, (Monday, January 14) Rebian Solicitors in Leeds, confirmed that their claim for unlawful arrest and detention, trespass and breach of their human rights was being withdrawn.

A spokesman for Operation Sacristy said: "We note that their civil claim has now been withdrawn. We intended to defend their civil action against us and would have demonstrated in court that their arrest, the searches and their interviews were necessary, lawful and proportionate."

A claim against Mr Price and Mr Bonnard for the legal costs incurred in responding to their claim and for preparing to defend the legal action is now being considered.

However a spokesman for Mr Price and Mr Bonnard said: "We are able to confirm that as a result of further legal advice on timing issues, Mr Price and Mr Bonnard have taken the decision to discontinue their civil claim at this time.

"However, they fully intend to progress this matter to civil court in due course.

"Mr Price and Mr Bonnard continue to maintain that both their arrests and detention were unlawful and stand by their previous complaints about the actions of the respective forces.

"Indeed they have received strong legal opinion in support of this position. It is their intention that recommencement of proceedings will be made in the near future."

The decision was revealed on the same day that date of Mr Bonnard's misconduct hearing was announced.

It is due to start on March 4, and last for up to four weeks.

It relates to seven allegations of gross misconduct, and will be held in private.

The misconduct hearing follows a managed investigation carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, following a referral from Cleveland Police Authority in August 2011.

One matter of potential gross misconduct has been deferred pending the outcome of the wider criminal investigation ongoing by Operation Sacristy.

Mr Bonnard remains suspended from duty.

Mr Price was dismissed from the force in October for gross misconduct after an eight day disciplinary hearing.