THE company which runs Darlington Auction Mart is being investigated by police over allegations of financial irregularities.

Durham Constabulary confirmed last night it was investigating the claims relating to Darlington Farmers Auction Mart, but said inquiries were in the early stages.

It is believed police were called in by a group of concerned shareholders in the mart, which is one of the UK’s largest dedicated auction marts.

Financial director Richard Heseltine said last night that he was not aware of any police involvement and they had not been in touch with him.

He said: “I haven’t been informed about any police investigation.

“We are currently on site building the new auction mart centre, after attempts to relocate for 40 years.

“There is a dissident group of shareholders who can’t stand to see the current board having success – I think it is envy.”

A Durham Police spokeswoman said: “We are carrying out enquiries relating to allegations of financial irregularity at the Darlington Farmers Auction Mart.

"These enquiries are in the very early stages.”

The company is set to relocate to Humbleton Farm at Burtree Gate, on the outskirts of Darlington in 2020 from its current premises in Clifton Road.

The new site will include space for 1,000 cattle and 3,000 sheep and it is hoped sales at the auction mart will go up by as much as 15 per cent.

Currently, agricultural vehicles have to enter Darlington town centre to load and unload, adding significant time to their journey and also contributing to more congestion.

The 140-year-old mart has repeatedly tried to relocate over several decades, and plans to move to Humbleton Farm were first floated 13 years ago.