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Monday, 20 October 2014

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Top Cumbria police officer denies claims he quashed probe

Cumbria's suspended chief constable has “strenuously denied” allegations levelled against him in court that he quashed a criminal investigation into the multi-million pound Stobart transport business.

Stuart  Hyde photo
Stuart Hyde

Stuart Hyde spoke out to defend himself following a hearing in which it was alleged he blocked a probe into a complaint that Stobart transport company directors had committed fraud over the sale of Carlisle Airport.

The man making the claim is Peter Elliott, who worked as an aviation director for the firm WA Developments International (WADI) until 2007.

Mr Elliott, 46, told the High Court in Manchester that he reported allegations that William Stobart and Andrew Tinkler, directors of WADI and chief operating officer and chief executive of the Stobart Group respectively, had overvalued the airport before selling it, presenting them with a £12 million profit.

But he said that after an investigation began it was shelved, and blamed Mr Hyde.

The allegations were heard as Mr Elliott sought to have an injunction that bars him from publicly making allegations against the Stobarts dropped.

He said: “Chief Constable Stuart Hyde had a relationship with Stobart that was simply not acceptable.”

Mr Hyde, who has been suspended from his post since September following separate allegations, said: “I strenuously deny all allegations made about me by an individual, Peter Elliot, who is unknown to me. I did not block an investigation.”

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes said: “The allegations raised by Mr Elliott were considered by the Police Authority’s People and Performance Committee on December 20, 2011. Having considered the allegations the committee decided not to record a complaint.”

Stobart and Mr Elliott have been in a series of long-running legal wrangles, which have led to Mr Elliott having two injunctions brought against him to prevent him from spreading his beliefs about Stobart’s business dealings to the wider public.

Mr Elliott has lodged repeated legal claims against Mr Tinkler and the business affairs of his former employer, none of which have been successful.

Last June he was jailed for three months for sending letters which attacked the businessman’s reputation, in breach of an earlier court order.

Today, Stobart agreed to drop one injunction currently out on Mr Elliott, who was awarded costs.

He is still covered by another. Mr Elliott claims all his allegations are“fair and capable of justification”.

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