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Calls for independent inquiry into police corruption claims

The gangster Paul Massey was known as the “Mr Big” of Salford. Source: CHRIS BULL/ALAMY.

This material belongs to: The Times.

A former associate of the gangster Paul Massey has claimed that police officers received bribes “left, right and centre”, amid calls for an independent inquiry into corruption claims.

This follows revelations in The Times that a £3.5 million inquiry connected to Massey, who was known as the “Mr Big” of Salford before his murder two years ago, collapsed after accusations of police corruption.

The failure of Greater Manchester police to investigate the allegations was a factor in prosecutors’ decision not to proceed with charges over Operation Holly, a five-year inquiry into money laundering, fraud and tax offences.

It centred on 21st Security Ltd, a company for which Massey, 55, was a consultant. Detectives believed that he was a “shadow director” for 21st Security and that it was used to launder funds and disguise the gang’s gains.

A source close to 21st Security told The Times that police “had their handouts more than anybody”. He said that security companies paid bribes to police in Manchester because it was “made quite clear” that they could be closed down or police would recommend the use of their rivals.

“Nobody wants to admit it. It was officers, left right and centre. Big A4 size brown envelopes full of money. It was running into the tens of thousands.”

He denied that Massey ran 21st Security and said it was a legitimate business that did not engage in money laundering or tax offences.

GMP did not respond to questions yesterday about the bribery claims, which cannot be verified. The force is already facing questions over why it did not investigate allegations of bribery that surfaced during Operation Holly.

Peter Fahy, a former chief constable at GMP, yesterday said that organised crime groups often made up corruption claims in an attempt to frustrate police inquiries.

Mr Fahy said that he could not comment on the specific case but emphasised that the force had a good track record of fighting corruption and had had “a lot of success” in the battle against organised crime.

He said that the case underlined why the responsibility to investigate complaints about police, including corruption, should be removed from internal departments and looked at by a separate independent body. Most corruption claims are investigated internally although the Independent Police Complaints Commission takes some cases.

Michael Winstanley, a Tory councillor in Wigan who has previously run for police and crime commissioner in Manchester, called for an inquiry into Operation Holly. “Public confidence needs to be re-established. There needs to be an independent inquiry from outside GMP,” he said.

A number of people are publicly linked to 21st Security, including former directors, and there is no suggestion of wrongdoing in relation to them.

Massey, who was involved in racketeering, extortion and drugs, was shot five times with a sub-machinegun outside his home in July 2015. He and alleged associates had been under investigation since 2011 by the northwest regional organised crime unit.

Prosecutors told police that the corruption allegations needed to be fully investigated before a charging decision was made because they could undermine the case. Under the rules of disclosure, anything that undermines or assists the defence must be handed over.

Among the issues of concern were a mysterious phone call to 21st Security 15 minutes before search warrants were executed in 2011, and claims that documents were secreted away as a result. There were also allegations from Massey’s associates that “brown envelopes” had been passed to officers and that the details of bribes would be laid bare in court if charges resulted.

Gangland fraud probe collapses amid “corruption claims”

A general view of the Greater Manchester Police headquarters in Manchester, north west England on January 8, 2013. Source: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images.

This material belongs to: INews.

A six-year investigation into gangland fraud and money laundering has collapsed amid claims of alleged corruption.

Security boss Paul Massey, known as Salford’s “Mr Big”, was murdered by a lone gun in 2015. He was hit four times and died from gunshot wounds.

He had been under investigation by Titan North West Regional Organised Crime Unit when he was killed.

The £3.5m investigation, which also involved alleged business associates of Mr Massey, was dropped after allegations of bribery and corruption emerged, a report in the Times claims.

It said the allegations would have undermined the chances of convictions if they had been disclosed in court.

Greater Manchester Police says the “complex investigation” was stopped after Crown Prosecution Service lawyers advised there was no realistic prospect of a prosecution.

The CPS said lawyers gave police “investigative advice” which also covered “disclosure issues which hindered our ability to authorise charges”. It said the CPS has no power to direct police forces to carry out investigations.


A decision was taken that no-one would be charged in June this year, the CPS said.

“Brown envelopes”

According to the Times, among issues of concern was an alleged phone call to a business linked to Mr Massey before search warrants were issued. Mr Massey’s associates also alleged that “brown envelopes” were passed to officers and details of bribes would be laid bare in court if charges resulted, the newspaper claimed.

Mr Massey, who had five children and was a grandfather, was murdered outside his home by a hitman with a machine gun in July 2015.

Police believe the murder was part of a feud between organised crime gangs in Salford. No-one has been charged with his murder and an investigation is still ongoing.

Mr Massey had been arrested with five others in December 2011 as part of a police probe into a Salford-based security company.

He claimed the police were conducting a “witch hunt” against him and strenuously denied any wrongdoing after having his bail conditions were relaxed in March 2015, though he was told he was still under investigation, codenamed Operation Holly.

Greater Manchester Police said a review is under way and the force’s Professional Standards Branch is carrying out inquiries “to ascertain if there are any conduct issues with officers”.

A spokesman for the police force said: “Following a complex investigation into the activities of an organised crime group from Salford by Titan North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, a comprehensive file was submitted to Crown Prosecution Service, who advised that there was no realistic prospect of a successful prosecution.

“As a result, a decision was made that no further action would be taken in this case and all interested parties were notified. As with any major investigation where a decision is made to take no further action, a review will take place with the CPS to see if any lessons can be learnt”.

“Following the decision not to prosecute, enquiries are also being carried out by GMP’s Professional Standards Branch to ascertain if there are any conduct issues with officers”.

“Investigative advice”

The CPS said in a statement: “The CPS provided investigative advice to the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit as part of a long-term investigation into allegations of fraud and money laundering”.

“This advice covered, among other things, disclosure issues which hindered our ability to authorise charges; however, the CPS does not have the power to direct police forces to carry out investigations. Our role is to consider whether it is appropriate to bring criminal charges based on evidence provided by the police”.

“Following consideration of a full file of evidence, in June 2017 specialist prosecutors concluded there was not a realistic prospect of conviction and no charges were authorised. We are satisfied that our prosecutors carried out their duties properly and completely in this case”.