Criminal investigation V Independent report

The Policing Board, to be reconstituted in April, is said to be seeking an urgent report from the chief constable after a High Court judgement which could cost the public £1 million. That’s in contrast with the criminal investigation into alleged corruption which the Belfast High Court judge in the breach of contract case had called for.The call came in a ruling in favour of NI Sheet Metal Works Ltd. after the Belfast-based company, whose managing director, Jim Kirkpatrick, is also a DUP councillor, took an action for breach of contract after Firth Rixson Castings Ltd, listed as a Ministry of Defence supplier, were awarded the contract at an extra cost of £350,000.

The BBC report –

High Court judge Sir Liam McCollum said once legal costs had been taken into account, the wasteful loss of public funds was in the region of £1m.

Sir Liam said: “It is difficult to attribute an innocent motive or to absolve any person involved in the decision-making process.”

The judge said NI Sheet Metal Works was awarded the three-year contract in June 2001.

He said doubts and reservations were later expressed about the company’s ability to carry out the contract for no apparent reason.

The firm was asked to supply further steel samples for testing, which led to an allegation that the second set was not of the same quality as the first, meaning it did not comply with the contract.

Sir Liam said First Rixson Castings was employed instead, “at a greatly increased price”.

However, a later test proved that both samples were for all practical purposes the same steel, the judge said.

“There is evidence that the report of this test, which might have saved the contract, may have been suppressed within the PSNI team responsible for the contract,” added the judge.

“In addition, it may have been deliberately removed from the list of documents made available for discovery in the action.”

The BBC reported yesterday that

In a statement, the PSNI said it was “apparent that there are issues to be addressed arising from this case”.

“We are therefore arranging for the appointment of an independent expert to review and report on all the elements of this process.”

That sounds like they’ll be reviewing the comparison of the steel.. again.. in spite of the Court judgement?.. and there’s to be an independent report?.. not a criminal investigation?