AN under-fire police force are at the centre of a further corruption probe amid allegations of perverting the course of justice during a notorious kidnap trial.
Cleveland Police are being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over reports that officers from the force perverted the course of justice during the high-profile trial relating to the kidnap of Hartlepool builder Tony Pattison.
Businessman Mr Pattison, 52, was taken from his vehicle, which was parked at the old fairground car park in Seaton Carew, in March 2004.
He was tied up, blindfolded and bundled into the back of a white Transit van at gunpoint.
He was then taken to a lock-up at an industrial estate in Stockton, where he was tied to a chair.
His family was contacted and told to hand over cash.
Michael Collins, 47, of Highland Road, Hartlepool, Peter Morrison, 47, of Marden Terrace, Cullercoats, Colin Threadgill, 45, Belle Vue Road, Middlesbrough, and a fourth man, who could not be named for legal reasons, were all convicted of conspiracy to kidnap and conspiracy to blackmail in January 26, 2006.
Collins and Threadgill were jailed for nine years, while Morrison and the fourth man were jailed for 12 years. But, following a re-trial at Newcastle Crown Court in 2008, the fourth man was cleared of all charges.
Collins and Threadgill had their jail terms cut to seven-and-a-half years and Morrison to 10-and-a-half years on the basis an imitation firearm was used rather than a real one.
But in a further twist in the seven-year saga, five other people were arrested over allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice following the re-trial. That case is now understood to have collapsed. Now West Yorkshire Police is conducting a probe into the Cleveland force under direction from the IPCC.
An IPCC spokesman said: “The Independent Police Complaints Commission is managing an investigation into an allegation that Cleveland Police officers perverted the course of justice during a man’s trial.
“This investigation is ongoing and is being conducted by officers from West Yorkshire Police under the direction and control of an IPCC investigator. It would be inappropriate for the IPCC to comment further at this stage.”
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “This is an investigation being managed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and being conducted by officers from West Yorkshire Police.
“It would therefore be inappropriate for Cleveland Police to comment further. It is not connected to any other IPCC investigation.”