Four-year investigation into football club fraud has so far cost Northamptonshire Police £1m

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The police investigation into allegations of fraud linked to a £10.25m council loan to Northampton Town FC has now cost almost £1m.

In October 2015, police first began investigating claims that the Northampton Borough Council loan – to construct a new East Stand at Sixfields – had been misappropriated triggering a major inquiry into allegations of bribery, misconduct in public office, fraud and money laundering.

Figures released by Northamptonshire Police show the cost at the end of November 2019 stood at £974,492.

A team of between eight and 12 officers have been working on the highly complex inquiry from the start with investigators travelling across the whole of the UK to gather evidence.

They have required specialist support, both in terms of software to store vast amounts of data as well as additional legal and accountancy expertise.

At least 30 suspects have been interviewed as part of an inquiry which has also recovered more than five million emails, text messages and computer files.

In addition, investigators have examined scores of bank accounts, collected hundreds of potential witness statements and amassed thousands of wide-ranging exhibits.

Det Chief Supt Mark Behan, Head of Crime, said the Force, with the support of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, was intending to submit a Special Grant application to the Home Office for additional funding, adding that the inquiry, known as Operation Tuckhill, was entering the “final stages of an active investigation”.

He said Northamptonshire Police was in touch with the Crown Prosecution Service to discuss any decision-making around charges as well as the logistics concerning any future trial or trials.

He said: “The investigation into the events surrounding the Northampton Borough Council loan to Northampton Town FC is a complex matter involving allegations of corruption, deception and money laundering.

“These allegations involve the loss of substantial public money and we are conscious of the high public interest in ensuring our investigation remains independent, thorough and as cost-effective as possible, but without compromising quality.

“It would be inappropriate for the Police service not to complete such a public interest investigation on the basis of the cost.

“Northamptonshire Police always envisaged this investigation would take years to complete and, from the outset, put in place arrangements to ensure the resourcing does not compromise other areas of local Policing.

“We are making a funding application to the Home Office to seek to ensure the full cost of the investigation is not borne solely by local taxpayers.

“The costs identified relate to several years of full-time investigation by a dedicated team. The other costs relate to the provision of the specialist services that are necessary to deal with the volume of data or complex legal issues and which are not available in house.

“While the costs are substantial, they are in line with our expectations and, particularly given the amount of work undertaken, are lower than those incurred by others.”

Stephen Mold, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire Police, said: “I continue to fully support the ongoing investigation, which has been extremely complex and resource-intensive.  In due course, I will be asking the Home Office to support our application for additional grant funding.”

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