Police seize cash from councillor's home

POLICE who arrested a councillor on suspicion of corruption at his Great Bentley home also seized �30,000 in cash from the property.

Roddy Ashworth

EXCLUSIVE

POLICE who arrested a councillor on suspicion of corruption at his Great Bentley home also seized �30,000 in cash from the property, the EADT can reveal.

The money was discovered by officers investigating allegations against former chairman of Tendring District Council chairman Peter De Vaux Balbernie.


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It was found in envelopes divided into bundles of �1,000 each in a safe at the Larkfield Road house.

Detectives were later given permission by a district judge to keep hold of the money for three months under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

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Mr Balbirnie, who represents Little Clacton and Weeley on Tendring District Council (TDC), was arrested on Thursday morning last week in connection with claims of financial impropriety.

He was taken to Chelmsford police station where he was questioned on suspicion of soliciting a gift as a member of a public body in accordance with the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act of 1889.

He was later released on police bail until October.

Tendring First party member Mr Balbirnie, 64, who first became a councillor in 1981, recently returned to the council chamber after a three-month suspension after swearing at a planning officer.

A TDC standards committee meeting in March found the councillor had failed to treat former TDC employee Andrew Tyrrell with respect in September 2006.

As a result of Mr Balbirnie's three month suspension - and subsequent inability to vote at council meetings - the Conservative Party at the town hall was able to take over control of the administration, removing Tendring First from power.

Mr Balbirnie also sits as a councillor on Weeley Parish Council, Great Bentley Parish Council and Little Clacton Parish Council.

A police spokesman said: “Detectives seized �30,000 from a man's home in accordance with the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

“An application was made at Chelmsford Magistrates Court on Friday May 12 where a district judge allowed officers to keep this money for 90 days while their enquiries continue.

“The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 gives police the power to seize cash which they believe to be acquired through criminal activity.”

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