EXCLUSIVE: Corby Council in the clear after a '˜thorough' police investigation
There will be no prosecutions over controversial land deals at Corby Council following a two-and-a-half-year police investigation, the Northants Telegraph can reveal.
Officers at Northamptonshire Police have been looking into activities at the authority since they were alerted to possible criminal activities in July 2013.
But now that investigation has come to an end, and after consulting with the Crown Prosecution Service, the force has revealed that there will be no charges.
The exact nature of their investigation has remained under wraps, but it was believed to be based on irregularities surrounding the Tesco site in St Mark’s Road, Corby, exposed by an external audit that was made public in June 2013 and handed to police a month later by Conservative borough councillors.
That site was sold by Corby Council to Greatline for £82,000 in 2010.
The Northants Telegraph can now reveal that the land was subsequently sold on, including the completed Tesco store, in 2013 for an astonishing £43m to off-shore firm Renduki, based in the Isle of Man.
A Northamptonshire Police statement said: “Northamptonshire Police have conducted a thorough and lengthy inquiry into allegations surrounding the sale by Corby Council of land on the town’s St James industrial estate in 2010, a site which was subsequently developed by Tesco.
“As part of that inquiry, the force has been working alongside the Crown Prosecution Service to determine whether any criminal offences were committed in that process.
“After careful consideration, Northamptonshire Police has decided there is insufficient evidence to justify a prosecution and, as a result, no further action will be taken on this matter.”
The 2013 KPMG audit report showed major issues with a number of projects that took place in Corby during the preceding five years.
- Rockingham Triangle
- The Corby Cube overspend
- The former Lincoln Way / Kingswood Estate
- The purchase of the Tesco site at St Mark’s Road
Former chief executive Chris Mallender, who was at the helm when the deals took place, took early retirement before the report was released following a year on secondment.
Council leader at the time Cllr Pat Fawcett died in 2012.
In 2015, former head of housing Steven Redfearn reached an out-of-court settlement with the authority after he claimed he was bullied to the brink of suicide after raising problems with the way the council had dealt with the projects.
Corby Council leader Tom Beattie said he hoped a line could now be drawn under the whole episode: “I am disappointed with how long the investigation has taken by I was always sure there was nothing for the police to find.
“I am pleased they have now reached their conclusion.
“It’s taken an inordinate amount of time and I don’t understand why it has taken so long.”
Cllr Beattie said he had been surprised not to have been formally interviewed as part of the investigation.
He added: “They’ve requested documents which we have provided and we have co-operated with everything that we’ve been asked for.
“It’s been an odd investigation. There certainly haven’t been police swarming around the cube looking through our filing cabinets.
“Most of the information they’ve requested was already in the public domain.
“The KPMG report came up with recommendations to implement and we have done that.
“Corby Council is now in a much better place than it was then.
“We’re a good council and getting better. We’re now on a secure financial footing.
“Lessons have been learned.”