FLOWERS, exclusive hotels, expensive restaurants and foreign trips were all funded by the taxpayer, documents showing the extent of corporate credit card spending at Cleveland Police have revealed.
The full details of the expenditure were released after the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to press charges on ten people arrested in connection with a 41-month corruption investigation into the force.
The total credit card bill over the five year period was £255,691.36.
The documents showed that former chief constable Sean Price, who was sacked in October 2012 for gross misconduct, spent £57,800 over a five year period.
His bill to the force included flowers: £1,132.49; hotels: £26,895.91; and restaurants: £7,784.80.
With one receipt for £70.50 from the Zorba Kebab House in Liverpool in June 2008 and evidence of repeated stays at a four star hotel, The Rubens at the Palace in London, which describes itself as the closest hotel to Buckingham Palace.
The documents, which are available on the Cleveland Police website, also show that former Cleveland Police Authority chairman, Dave McLuckie spent a total of £2,566.38 at just two restaurants on Teesside on his corporate credit card - £817.65 at Alessi’s in Saltburn and £1,748.73 at Santoro in Yarm between March 06 and March 11.
Julie Leng, who was the former acting chief executive and now wife of Mr McLuckie, accrued a bill of £25,311.69 between January 2007 and March 2011.
The claimant for the largest amount on his corporate credit card was Joe McCarthy, former chief executive officer, who between March 2006 and April 2010, racked up a bill of £78,526.28.
Two trips to Denver, in 2007 and 2009, cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds to pay for people to attend an awards ceremony at the International Association for Women in Policing and two years later for the International Association of Chief Police Officers conference.
The first trip incurred costs of £7,312.72, while the bill for the second visit totalled £18,015.49.
On the second occasion, Mr Price was accompanied by his former staff officer Inspector Heather Eastwood, who he later married. Ms Eastwood resigned from the force in 2013. At the time, she was facing a gross misconduct charge over allegations she failed to inform her superiors after being arrested for being drunk and disorderly in 2011.
Also on the trip were former CPA chairman Dave McLuckie and Julie Leng, the former interim chief executive of the authority. Mr McLuckie and Ms Leng have since married.
The force also spent £228,955 on five cars for Mr Price and his deputy Derek Bonnard. One - an Audi A8 saloon - cost £44,828, including the fitment of extra equipment. It was sold 19 months later for just £10,723 - depreciation of 72 per cent.
Last night Cleveland's new chief constable insisted new systems were in place to prevent excessive spending.
Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer said: “The people doing the checks and processes were all checking each other, which is why I think public scrutiny works and having information available for people to ask ourselves what the money was spent on is important.”
Mrs Cheer now describes a different culture at the force, she said: “Since arriving in Cleveland in October 2011, I have ensured that we have looked at the issues as the investigation has progressed, and made the necessary changes, rather than waiting until the publication of any final report or the conclusion of any criminal or disciplinary proceedings.
“There are now more stringent checks and balances in place to monitor the effective and efficient use of public resources.”
The investigation also identified concerns about the issuing of contracts to two companies – Combi UK and Enterprise Consulting.
The documents reveal that £42,773 worth of untendered contracts were award to the Middlesbrough-based Combi UK, which was connected to former CPA chairman Dave McLuckie, who worked as a consultant for the firm.
Another company, Enterprise Consulting, was issued with £830,543-worth of purchase orders for work carried out for the Police Authority over a three year period, again without any tendering process.
The company also played a key part in the negotiations to secure CPA’s £175m Strategic Partnering Agreement with Steria UK Limited, a project which was designed to deliver financial savings and secure jobs.
Law firm Eversheds’ website shows it worked with a team from Enterprise Consulting and the in-house Police Authority team. The deal with Steria UK Ltd was signed on July 2010.