No evidence officer took bribe or made suggestive comments to restaurant owner

Published Date: Sep 2014

The Police Ombudsman has found no evidence that a police officer made suggestive comments or accepted a bribe from the owners of a restaurant who were seeking to obtain a liquor licence.

The Chief Constable of the PSNI asked the Police Ombudsman to investigate after an officer received two emails in December 2012 alleging impropriety on his part.

One was from a male owner of the restaurant who alleged that the officer had accepted £200 in £50 notes from him a few months previously. He said he had been led to believe that the officer took “favours” and stated that he believed the officer was due “to object” on a date on which the restaurant’s application for a liquor licence was due to be heard in court.

The second appeared to be from the man’s female business partner, and alleged that the officer had made inappropriate comments during a telephone conversation. It stated that the officer had asked questions that the woman found inappropriate and upsetting.

The officer forwarded the emails to his inspector, who passed them on to the Police Ombudsman’s Office for independent investigation.

The officer subsequently attended court on the date referred to in the email and opposed the restaurant’s application for the transfer and renewal of a liquor licence. The restaurant closed a short time later.

A Police Ombudsman investigator was appointed to investigate the allegations against the officer, who strenuously denied the allegations.

Officer strenuously denied the allegations.

However, over the course of three months, the investigator was unable to obtain a statement from either the male or female restaurant owner, despite repeated attempts via phone, by letter and via legal representatives.

Eventually the male business owner called to say that he no longer wished to assist the investigation and would be not be making a statement. The female owner did not contact the investigator.

A check of PSNI phone records revealed that the call between the female and the officer had not been recorded.

Although they did not co-operate with the Police Ombudsman’s investigation, both restaurant owners were interviewed by police investigating the alleged bribery of a police officer.

During interview the man admitted sending the first email and said he had been venting his frustration and was taking a cocktail of drink and medication at the time. The woman denied any knowledge of the second email.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, subsequently concluded that there was no evidence to support the allegations against the officer made in the emails.

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