BRUNSHAW sub post office was closed and five people were arrested in dawn raids by police, post office and benefits agency investigators today.

Among those taken to the police station for questioning, police have confirmed, was the sub postmaster 36-year-old Richard Lofthouse who has been in charge of the Brunshaw Road sub post office for six years.

Mr Lofthouse, of Rhyddings Avenue, Worsthorne, is president of Todmorden Cricket Club.

He was due to travel to Birmingham tomorrow to give bone marrow for a six-year- old girl suffering from leukaemia.

Thirty-five police and staff from the other agencies were involved in Operation Canberra in the seven o'clock raids at a number of Burnley addresses.

Two men and three women were arrested and are being questioned about alleged benefit book frauds going back more than a year.

Det Sgt Mark Gray would only say that a "very significant amount of money" was believed to be involved.

He said: "The sub post office has been closed. The premises are being searched and property recovered.

"The office will certainly be closed for the remainder of the day and maybe for longer. Due to the complex nature of the investigation it may take some time. It is a complicated matter involving benefit books and theft.

"Meanwhile customers are being directed to the nearest branch in Todmorden Road or to the main post office in Hargreaves Street.''

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