Lancashire homes raided in One Connect probe

3:00pm Friday 21st February 2014

LANCASHIRE police have confirmed that detectives probing the controversial County Hall company One Connect Limited raided three addresses in the North West.

Officers executed warrants in Southport, Knowsley and Fulwood in Preston, but no arrests have been made.

The warrants are part of an investigation into the running of One Connect, a company set up jointly by Lancashire County Council and telecom giant BT to save cash running council services.

The force was called in last year by the county’s new Labour leadership over alleged financial irregularities involving the partnership’s awarding of contracts County chief executive Phil Halsall was suspended from his £190,000-a-year post before leaving the authority’s employ by ‘mutual consent’.

The ruling Labour group discovered one of the men instrumental in setting up One Connect, David McElhinney, also boss of Liverpool Direct, had been paid more than £600,000 for two years’ work when the county treasurer believed he was getting just £40,000 annually for two-and-a-half days a week.

Geoff Driver, leader of the Conservative group in power when One Connect was set up, claims the investigation is politically motivated and has issued a statement denying his Fulwood home was searched by police.

A Lancashire Constabulary spokesman said yesterday: “We can confirm that on Wednesday, February 12, officers from Lancashire Constabulary searched three addresses.

“The searches follow a referral from Lancashire County Council last year outlining concerns in relation to a number of financial irregularities.

“No-one has been arrested. Two men have attended a police station by pre-arranged appointment as part of an on-going investigation.

“We will also be speaking with a third man.”

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “The county council is continuing to co-operate with a police investigation but it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this stage."

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