Police wives' firms paid £3.5m to type witness statements as cronyism fears grow over lucrative Met contracts
The families of serving police officers have been given multi-million-pound contracts to type up witness statements – despite having no previous experience of such work.
The deals have sparked accusations that the officers could have abused their positions as Scotland Yard declined to answer questions about how the work was awarded.
One company, registered at the home of former Flying Squad boss Barry Phillips, has been paid £1.7 million in the past five years for its transcription services. Another company, run by the wives of two serving officers, has been paid a total of £1.8 million by the Met.
Key player: Optimum, run by the wives of two officers, has received £1.8m
Last night Scotland Yard would not say whether the firms had secured contracts from units the officers were working in, and refused to say whether the contracts had gone out to open tender or were simply awarded via word of mouth within the force.
One senior officer said: ‘It’s jobs and money for the boys and their relatives. If these kind of arrangements are allowed, then the rules have to be changed.’
Former Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick added: ‘However legitimate the business, having so much of it going to companies associated with serving officers will raise suspicions. Contracts of this kind should be advertised on the open market.’
The work arose following a change in court rules which required police to give defence lawyers witness statements in document form rather than on audio tape.
The officers involved deny using their connections to give their families an unfair advantage. Police officers’ outside interests have to be approved by a senior officer.
One of the companies, Meadows Forensics, is registered at the home of former Detective Superintendent Phillips, who retired as head of the Flying Squad two years ago following a 33-year police career. His wife Eileen is company secretary, and its sole director is his stepdaughter Kelly Kerr, who he admits had no previous experience of typing or police work.
Family ties: One firm is registered at the home of former flying squad boss Barry Phillips
‘She started the company in 2004 with a typist she knew. It was the typist’s idea,’ he said. ‘The people at the Yard know what is going on and they applaud the work the company does. It has never marketed. It has won its reputation through word of mouth.
‘My daughter’s profits are about £36,000 a year. My wife is paid around £10,000. I have not profited in any way. It has all been authorised by the Met.’
Mr Phillips also helped set up Scotland Yard’s Debrief Unit, which gathers evidence from ‘supergrasses’. Some of the taped interviews are understood to have been given to Meadows Forensics and another company to which Mr Phillips is linked, BGP Global Services, for transcribing.
That company has been paid £320,000 by the force since 2005 and is run by former Scotland Yard detectives.
Although Mr Phillips is not officially listed as a director, he has that title on internal documents. His initials are BGP but he told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It could stand for anything – Bloody Good Policeman, for example.’
Scotland Yard was last night unable to say whether Meadows Forensics or BGP Global Services had transcribed informers’ interviews while Mr Phillips was head of the Debrief Unit.
Another company with close links to Scotland Yard is Optimum Typing Services, which has been paid £1.8 million by the Met, including £325,000 last year alone.
It is run by the wives of two serving officers, Detective Inspector Mike Duncan and Detective Sergeant Nicholas Hamer. In 2002, the two officers began passing work to their wives on an informal basis because of a shortage of police typists in the area of West London where they were based. The arrangement was later formalised.
Detective Inspector Duncan said: ‘They went through a proper tendering process. We have been open, honest and transparent.’
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