THE Police and Crime Commissioner of Durham is being investigated over employee benefits paid while he was a deputy chief constable.

Ron Hogg, who was elected as a Labour candidate in November, is alleged to have knowingly accepted benefits he was not entitled to while serving as Deputy Chief Constable of Cleveland police.

The information was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) by Durham’s Police and Crime Panel after members received information from officers working on Operation Sacristy, an ongoing criminal investigation into individuals with past and present associations with Cleveland Police Authority.

Mr Hogg said he will fully co-operate with the investigation and maintains that he has done nothing wrong.

Following an assessment of the referral made by Durham’s Police and Crime Panel, the IPCC has launched its own independent investigation that will be overseen by Commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone.

Mr Dipple-Johnstone said: "The IPCC investigation will look at whether benefits Mr Hogg received before his departure from Cleveland police were properly in line with rules in place at the time. We will carry out a thorough and independent inquiry to establish the facts before deciding whether any matters should be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for its consideration.”

Mr Hogg issued a statement today (Wednesday) through the Labour Party North East office.

He said: "I will fully co-operate with the IPCC investigation and I am confident that they will find I have acted in good faith throughout. Remuneration I received when working for Cleveland Police was determined by Cleveland Police Authority. I took no part in the decision-making process over the remuneration I received."

A spokeswoman for Warwickshire Police, which is carrying out investigations relating to Operation Sacristy confirmed that their officers who handed over the information to the IPCC and the Mr Hogg at a meeting in July.

She said: “The purpose of the meeting was to provide the Chief Executive with information and documents obtained during Operation Sacristy. This information has been brought to the attention of the Chief Executive for further consideration in accordance with the Elected Local Policing Bodies (complaints and misconduct ) Regulations 2012.

“Officers from Operation Sacristy considered that it was their duty to alert the appropriate authorities to the information and a member of staff from the Independent Police Complaints Commission was also present when the information was provided.

“Operation Sacristy has no remit to conduct enquiries concerning the information contained within the documents and will not provide any further information about the meeting or the material handed over.”

Two of his former colleagues have been dismissed from the Cleveland force for gross misconduct.

Former Chief Constable Sean Price was sacked in October last year and remains on bail in connection with the criminal investigation Operation Sacristy.

His then deputy Derek Bonnard was also arrested in connection with the corruption allegations but has since been released from police bail without charge. However, he was sacked for gross misconduct in March.

The investigation into Mr Hogg is the fourth independent IPCC investigation into allegations against Police and Crime Commissioners since the first PCC elections in November 2012.

The other three investigations involve the Police and Crime Commissioners for Lancashire, North Wales and Hampshire.

The Lancashire PCC investigation has been completed and a file passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The Hampshire and North Wales investigations are ongoing.