Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Ex Met chief Sir Ian Blair cleared over £3m contracts to friends

Ex Met chief Sir Ian Blair cleared over £3m contracts to friends

By Jason Lewis
Last updated at 12:24 AM on 07th June 2009

Sir Ian Blair, the ex Metropolitan Police Commissioner

Controversial: Sir Ian Blair has been cleared of any wrong doing

Sir Ian Blair, the former Metropolitan Police chief, has been cleared of wrongdoing over £3million worth of business contracts the force awarded to his close friend and skiing partner.

The decision comes after a long-running inquiry by former Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, into work given to a company owned by Andy Miller, a holiday companion of Sir Ian.

Sources last night confirmed that the report, to be handed to the Metropolitan Police Authority this week, would formally clear Sir Ian, who stepped down as Commissioner last year with a £1million pay-off.

Mr Miller’s company, Impact Plus, was hired to provide lucrative communications and IT systems for the force.

The inquiry began in July last year after it was claimed that Impact Plus was given one contract for £150,000 which another firm had allegedly offered to undertake for a third of the price.

The revelation led to concerns that Sir Ian’s 30-year friendship with Mr Miller amounted to a conflict of interest. Sir Ian denied any wrongdoing and co-operated fully with the inquiry.

Sir Ian, 56, announced an interest in Mr Miller’s company before a meeting to consider rival tenders for one Scotland Yard contract. But he then remained in the room during the decision-making process.

Concerns have also been raised about a contract to enhance Sir Ian’s public image. When the inquiry began Sir Ian said: ‘I consider that I was open and straightforward about my relationship with someone who was subsequently awarded a contract. I reject any suggestion that I have behaved inappropriately.’

A source close to Sir Ronnie last night said: ‘Nothing has been found that suggests Sir Ian did anything improper.’

Sir Ian will receive a lump sum pay-out of £672,000 and an index-linked pension of £126,000.

Sir Ian’s reign was dogged by questions about his judgment, leadership credentials and politically correct style of policing.

He faced personal criticism over the handling of the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, shot by armed officers under the false impression that he was a suicide bomber.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: ‘It is for the Metropolitan Police Authority, not the Home Office or Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, to comment.’

Last night a spokesman for the MPA confirmed it was still awaiting the report.