“A number of items have been removed for examination…”

The BBC report that police have searched an office at the Policing Board headquarters and the home of the board’s chairman Barry Gilligan.  From the report

In a statement, the PSNI said: “Searches have been conducted in Belfast as part of an investigation into matters concerning development land at Nelson Street in Belfast city centre.

“A number of items have been removed for examination from an office and a house.”

A spokeswoman for the Policing Board said it could confirm that a search was carried out as part of an ongoing investigation.

The Housing Executive had previously asked the police to investigate its role in a site at Nelson Street, in north Belfast – which is now owned by the development company, Big Picture Developments – one of whose directors is the chairman of the Policing Board, Barry Gilligan.

In March this year police searched the offices of Big Picture Developments as part of an investigation into the role of the Housing Executive in the site.

A Big Picture spokesman [had then] said the company was “assisting the PSNI as part of a wider investigation it is carrying out”.

“We want to make it absolutely clear that none of our directors, or staff, have done anything wrong and we are assisting the PSNI fully so that they can confirm this as soon as possible,” he added.

Update  From a BBC report

In a statement [Barry Gilligan] said: “My fellow directors and I have made, and continue to make, ourselves and our company files totally available to the PSNI in order to clear matters up as speedily as possible, confident that we will be completely vindicated.

“To that end, I will voluntarily meet the PSNI in the coming days at a mutually convenient time.”

Mr Gilligan said he had to take temporary leave as chairman of the Policing Board due to impending heart surgery and had hoped to return before the end of the summer.

“But in light of the recent activity by the PSNI, my coronary condition and the dignity of the office of chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, I feel that I should not return to the role at this time,” he said.

Mr Gilligan added he would seek support to return as chairman at a board meeting on 2 September.

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