THE hunt to find the records of hospitality enjoyed by people at the top of Cleveland Police proved more difficult than detectives expected.

When officers working on Operation Sacristy requested copies of the hospitality records for former chief constable Sean Price and his deputy Derek Bonnard they were far from complete.

The diary entries from the pair had been overwritten on a digital spreadsheet used to record events such as meetings with public officials, trips to football and rugby matches and meals with civil dignitaries and fellow officers.

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In June 2011, the investigation team requested a copy of Mr Price’s records but during a meeting he refused to hand it over saying that the original document had been deleted from the system and that it was an IT fault.

A member of police staff was asked by Mr Price to collate a record of meeting and visits he attended using his diary entries and specifically requested that all football matches be included.

During an interview on June 20, 2012, Mr Price attended with a prepared statement giving his version of events of the compilation of the records.

It read: “I recall that in late 2010 or early 2011 Subject M discovered that the electronic register kept by her over a number of years had been overridden by another programme. Efforts were made by IT to recover the register but I believe by about April 2011 it was acknowledged that it was unlikely to be recoverable…”

Mr Bonnard pointed out that it was not unusual for senior officers across the country not to have compiled accurate records of all their meetings and times when they enjoyed hospitality.

Several entries across the register eventually made available to the detectives showed that companies worked for and associated with the former Chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, Dave McLuckie, were a feature.

Boulby Potash Mine, where Mr McLuckie is employed, paid for tickets for a Middlesbrough game in August 2005, while Combi UK, where the former Redcar and Cleveland Borough councillor was a paid consultant, paid for season tickets at the football club and regularly hosted guests of the Chief Constable and police authority.

The first recorded trip to a football match paid for by Combi UK, which was published by the force this week, occurred two months before a purchase order for a £23,000 contract was awarded to the heating company without a tendering process.