Chapter 15

Alarm bells should have been ringing out, loud and clear

The whole duty of government is to prevent crime and to preserve contracts.

Lord Melbourne (1779–1848)

When procurements and contracts go wrong, the cost to your organisation can be out of all proportion to that intended by those drawing up the initial contract. In this case, which had my undivided attention in three spells, first in 1999, then 2000–2002 and, finally, in 2006, no one individual was responsible for committing a clear-cut and chargeable significant fraud. However, the nature of everything that went on had a cumulative effect that wasted millions of pounds of public funds and cost millions to put right. It also caused significant negative press coverage and damaged police reputations at the time.

We found many minor frauds and thefts along the way, stopped millions more pounds being wasted, as well as triggering the resignation of the then most senior Procurement official in the Met and causing the departure of another. It also took a robust defensive investigation in 2006, nearly six years after the contract had failed, to prevent further significant losses to the public purse.

This case—well, technically, two cases that eventually became one—was one of my longest and most difficult cases to investigate when I was at the Met. The contractor cost us over £5 million in one year for what was meant to be a contract for less than a quarter of a million per annum. Six years later, we ended up with action ...

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