Suspended Yorkshire police chief faces bribery probe

West Yorkshire Police chief constable Mark Gilmore.
West Yorkshire Police chief constable Mark Gilmore.

The chief constable of West Yorkshire Police could face bribery and misconduct in public office charges in his native Northern Ireland in a probe into the award of vehicle contracts.

Mark Gilmore, who grew up in Belfast and spent most of his career in Northern Ireland, was suspended in June pending an investigation by his former force.

It is understood that the 49-year-old voluntarily attended a police station in Belfast last week for interview.

And detectives in Northern Ireland are now preparing a file on him to be handed to prosecutors after carrying out inquiries into bribery and misconduct in a public office prompted by the initial investigation.

Files on seven men arrested as part of the vehicle contract investigation are also being prepared for submission to the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland.

They include a 48-year-old police officer, a retired police officer and a 37-year-old member of police staff. The police officer and 37-year-old member of staff have been suspended.

Yesterday detectives from Serious Crime Branch investigating the awarding of a number of Police Service Northern Ireland vehicle contracts arrested a 54-year-old member of police staff in County Antrim.

He was detained on suspicion of misconduct in public office and has been taken to a police station in Belfast for questioning.

Mr Gilmore, who joined West Yorkshire Police last year, was suspended from his role by police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson in June.

Mr Burns-Williamson said this was as a result of information “received from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) arising from an investigation announced by them”.

He added: “I would like to stress that the suspension of the chief constable is a necessity in the public interest until the full facts have been established. I have also referred this matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

“I sincerely hope that the PSNI investigation is concluded quickly in a way that could allow me to lift the suspension and Mr Gilmore to return to his post and continue the vital work to ensure communities are safer and feel safer.”

Deputy chief constable Dee Collins has been acting as temporary chief while Mr Gilmore is suspended.

Mr Gilmore, who has been in his role for more than a year, was born in 1964. He spent his formative years in the Belfast area.

According to the West Yorkshire Police website, he “spent a short period of time working in the health service before joining the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1983, which later became the Police Service of Northern Ireland”.

Mr Gilmore has also previously had the role of deputy chief constable for Northumbria Police and served as assistant chief constable in West Yorkshire for two years.

In a statement released on the day of his suspension, Mr Gilmore said he had “not been informed of my status in connection to the investigation”.

He added: “I have conducted myself with the honesty and integrity expected of someone in my position and have 31 years unblemished professional record. I have fully co-operated with the investigation and will continue to do so.

“I hope to work with the Police and Crime Commissioner to bring about a quick and positive resolution to this matter so I can return to serving the people of West Yorkshire as soon as possible.”