Suspended police chiefs to sue

Sean Price and Derek Bonnard
Sean Price and Derek Bonnard say they will sue the heads of three police forces Photo: ITV

The Chief Constable of Cleveland Police is suing the heads of three police forces and the Director General of the National Crime Agency.

Sean Price and his deputy Derek Bonnard were arrested last August as part of Operation Sacristy. They were held on suspicion of misconduct, fraud and corruption before being bailed. But now they say they will take legal action against those involved in the arrests saying they were unlawful and that they were falsely imprisoned.

Letters have now been served to Chief Constables of North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Warwickshire police forces, as well as the arresting officers and the boss of the National Crime Agency.

Sean Price said:

"It's been ten months now since I had an incredibly high profile arrest. My name was just dragged through the mud and my life was basically destroyed overnight. We believe that I shouldn't have been arrested, shouldn't have been detained, my house shouldn't have been searched and that's the action we're taking today is to start the action to prove that."

"When you're a Chief Constable, ending up in a cell, detained overnight, hugely, hugely embarrassing but more than that devastating in terms of your inner feelings. It's a horrible horrible thing to happen."

His Deputy Derek Bonnard said the months since his arrest had been difficult:

"If I describe it as a plane crash in my life and the life of the people around me, everyday I'm still in the plane crash. I can't move on and haven't been able to move on and nor have my family because every waking moment I'm thinking about this."

Operation Sacristy is still ongoing, but both maintain their innocence and say they want to return to their jobs.

Warwickshire Police, which is leading the investigations, released a statement:

Criminal and misconduct investigations are ongoing. The Police Authority decided to suspend them following their arrest and interview and they remain on Police Bail. We have been in a position to interview Mr Price and Mr Bonnard in relation to misconduct matters for 5 months but they have been unable to make themselves available. The investigations receive their own legal advice and we are satisfied that the investigations are necessary, lawful and proportionate. We are completing enquiries as quickly and professionally as lawfully possible.It should be remembered that this is an investigation into complex corruption involving a number of other individuals. A range of serious allegations are being investigated.

Meanwhile, a complaint made by Mr Price and Mr Bonnard to the Independent Police Complaints Commission has been rejected. The pair said an investigator working on Operation Sacristy talked to a journalist leading to a story on a newspaper website. The IPCC said there was no evidence of this.