Man who sparked Operation Sacristy corruption probe into Cleveland Police says it was necessary

Man who sparked Operation Sacristy corruption probe into Cleveland Police says it was necessary

No regrets: Mark Braithwaite

Dave McLuckie and Sean Price

First published in News
Last updated
The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy News Editor

THE man who first raised allegations of corruption which led to a major three year investigation into Cleveland Police said tonight it had been necessary.

However, retired head of crime operations, Mark Braithwaite, said he was "saddened and disappointed" to see the force's reputation so badly damaged by the Operation Sacristy findings.

"The force, the public, the service has been badly let down," he said. "The information that's recently been made available over the course of this last week has caused massive damage to public confidence."

In 2010, the then Detective Chief Superintendent received an allegation that Dave McLuckie, the former chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, had received a £50,000 'bung' from a local businessman in return for inside information - which later proved false.

Mr Braithwaite alerted Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary which inturn began a review into how some individuals within the force "may have conducted some of its business".

This led to Operation Sacristy, which itself cost £4.6m, into the spending culture of Cleveland Police - resulting in the sacking of Chief Constable Sean Price and his deputy, Derek Bonnard.

It concluded last week with the Crown Prosecution Service confirming there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against nine people arrested as part of the inquiry.

These included Mr Price, the force's former solicitor Caroline Llewellyn and Mr McLuckie.

Mr McLuckie resigned from his post and was later jailed for perverting the course of justice after it emerged he persuaded a friend to accept speeding points on his behalf.

Operation Sacristy examined a complex set of allegations involving the misuse of corporate credit cards, expenses, hospitality and the issuing of contracts.

The inquiry revealed evidence of 'mismanagement, favouritism and an endemic culture of exploiting hospitality' - with thousands of pounds of public money spent on expenses for foreign trips, exclusive hotels and expensive restaurants together with the awarding of untendered police contracts.

Mr Price has described the probe as a witch-hunt and a waste of money while Mr McLuckie said the claims of 'serious corruption' were unjustified.

However, Mr Braithwaite said he had no regrets, adding: "It was entirely appropriate in my view that I raise it with the chief officer team and secondly with Her Majesty's Inspectorate.

"I felt there was a significant public interest in the matter that I'd raised and I felt that should receive consideration at a higher level - not withstanding that Mr Price was already aware. I felt I had a responsibility and a duty to escalate it.

"It's a matter of huge regret for me, for the service, a service I was proud to serve for 30 years that this investigation has been necessary.

I believe the investigation was necessary. People in public office have got significant responsibility, power and control and wherever there are criminal or misconduct allegations they should be properly investigated. Public confidence demands it."

Comments (6)

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10:27pm Tue 11 Mar 14

spragger says...

Pity it was not carried out properly.
The state looks after its own . .
Pity it was not carried out properly. The state looks after its own . . spragger
  • Score: 6

10:45pm Tue 11 Mar 14

Claude Ted says...

The bottom line is that this police force was governed by incompetent, unprofessional, unqualified self serving, greedy people who don't know the meaning of public service..
It's now led by a PCC that isn't qualified to run a sweet shop, was part of the CPA that presided over a police force mired in a shocking abuse of their own self importance & it still has yet to publicise all of its corrupt practices.
The question I have is that at what point did Braithwaite decide to attempt to expose his colleagues? Why wasn't it done before so much damage was already done ,
I am sure there is more to come from this discredited force & therefore more for the people of Cleveland to ultimately pay for.
The business done whilst under Price & his cohorts cannot be considered safe & requires close scrutiny to check its validity.
There is more than enough information already in the public domain to show the management of the police force & some members of the CPA were abusing their expenses which his fraud so I can only conclude the decision not to prosecute was political, if that's the case it's a disgrace!
The bottom line is that this police force was governed by incompetent, unprofessional, unqualified self serving, greedy people who don't know the meaning of public service.. It's now led by a PCC that isn't qualified to run a sweet shop, was part of the CPA that presided over a police force mired in a shocking abuse of their own self importance & it still has yet to publicise all of its corrupt practices. The question I have is that at what point did Braithwaite decide to attempt to expose his colleagues? Why wasn't it done before so much damage was already done , I am sure there is more to come from this discredited force & therefore more for the people of Cleveland to ultimately pay for. The business done whilst under Price & his cohorts cannot be considered safe & requires close scrutiny to check its validity. There is more than enough information already in the public domain to show the management of the police force & some members of the CPA were abusing their expenses which his fraud so I can only conclude the decision not to prosecute was political, if that's the case it's a disgrace! Claude Ted
  • Score: 14

8:58am Wed 12 Mar 14

Got Ya says...

All credit to Mark Braithwaite for having the courage to raise this issue and although it did not result in any prosecutions, at least it gave the public an insight into how the force was being run by Price and his senior team.
All credit to Mark Braithwaite for having the courage to raise this issue and although it did not result in any prosecutions, at least it gave the public an insight into how the force was being run by Price and his senior team. Got Ya
  • Score: 18

12:11pm Wed 12 Mar 14

ian923 says...

Well done Mark Braithwaite for having the guts to raise these very important issues. Not so well done to the Investigators who could not find sufficient evidence to persuade the wimps at the CPS to prosecute the individuals involved. It was definitely in the public interest to put them before a Court to decide their guilt or innocence.
Well done Mark Braithwaite for having the guts to raise these very important issues. Not so well done to the Investigators who could not find sufficient evidence to persuade the wimps at the CPS to prosecute the individuals involved. It was definitely in the public interest to put them before a Court to decide their guilt or innocence. ian923
  • Score: 7

1:17pm Wed 12 Mar 14

sadcrad says...

All I can say is well done Mr Braithwaite, you certainly did the right thing by reporting the alleged corruption. It has amazed me how these people even expected to get away with it. They have blackened the name and reputation of a force that was highly regarded and brought shame on the vast majority of honest and hard working officers. It a pity that the hierarchy were not all as honest and upstanding like Mr Braithwaite.
All I can say is well done Mr Braithwaite, you certainly did the right thing by reporting the alleged corruption. It has amazed me how these people even expected to get away with it. They have blackened the name and reputation of a force that was highly regarded and brought shame on the vast majority of honest and hard working officers. It a pity that the hierarchy were not all as honest and upstanding like Mr Braithwaite. sadcrad
  • Score: 7

12:42am Thu 13 Mar 14

Sng182 says...

Thank god for people like Mark Braithwaite , a true gentleman and credit to to Cleveland police
Thank god for people like Mark Braithwaite , a true gentleman and credit to to Cleveland police Sng182
  • Score: 2

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