THE PSNI’s two most senior police officers have been cleared of allegations of criminal activity and misconduct in public office.
Chief Constable George Hamilton and his deputy Drew Harris were investigated by the office of the Police Ombudsman.
It followed complaints by former PSNI ACC Duncan McCausland over the conduct of a bribery inquiry carried out over a lengthy period by detectives from the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch.
McCausland, 58, was held for three days at the serious crime suite in Antrim in 2014 over the corruption inquiry
The long running investigation – which included a cover surveillance operation – was into the awarding of a number of PSNI vehicle contracts.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton and a number of other officers have also been cleared of all allegations against them.
The ombudsman also said the PSNI bribery investigation was justified and necessary.
In a statement today, Chief Constable George Hamilton said: “In 2014 the PSNI commenced a complex bribery and corruption investigation.
“A file was presented to the Public Prosecution Service.
In December 2015 the PPS directed that no criminal charges should be brought.
“A number of complaints, amounting to 56 allegations, were made to the Police Ombudsman regarding the conduct of senior officers including myself, the Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris and Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, during that investigation.
“Today, I and the other senior officers involved welcome the full exoneration provided by the Police Ombudsman.
“The Ombudsman has reported that he is entirely satisfied that the original investigation was necessary, intelligence and evidence-led, lawful and proportionate.
“He has found that our actions were taken entirely in the public interest and not to have done so would have seriously impacted on public confidence in policing.
“He has recommended no misconduct proceedings against myself or any other police officers, nor at any stage during his investigation did he interview any officer for criminal conduct.
“For the public to have confidence in their police service, it is important that all officers at every rank can be held to account.
“We co-operated fully with the Ombudsman and let due process run its course.
“The 2014 PSNI investigation into bribery and corruption was commenced in the public interest.
“It was conducted with integrity and to the high professional standards that the public rightly expect from their police service.”