A former communications officer at West Midlands Police is facing a possible re-trial after a jury were unable to decide whether he was given “backhanders” or paid for consultancy work.
Adam Warwick (35) of Wishing Stone Way, Matlock, Derbyshire, had pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to conspiring with a Midlands businessman to defraud the force whilst working in the Casualty Reduction Partnership.
But after deliberating for more than 10 hours over the course of two days, the jury was unable to reach even a majority verdict.
The jury had already found his co-defendant, West Midlands Police’s former recruitment marketing manager David Vidgen, guilty of a separate charge of conspiracy to defraud.
The case against Vidgen (36) of Over Brunton Close, Birmingham, was adjourned for him to be sentenced with other defendants, including businessman Richard Millard, who had pleaded guilty.
Warwick and Vidgen were both alleged to have conspired with Millard (42) of Grange Lane, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, to defraud the West Midlands force in 2006.
Prosecutor Mark Heywood alleged they took advantage of weaknesses in West Midlands Police Authority’s financial system during the case at Warwick Crown Court.
It is said they approved payments of false invoices submitted by PortMedia UK Ltd, a company set up by Millard which carried out work for the Casualty Reduction Partnership (CRP) and the recruitment department.
Large invoices were split into up to three smaller ones to bring them within the £10,000 limit the two defendants could approve without the work being put out to tender.
But some work put out to PortMedia was actually done for a far lower price by other companies, while other contracts were given to PortMedia and paid for without being carried out.
Payments were made by Millard or PortMedia to the two men, with Vidgen receiving £3,000 and a company he had set up, David Vidgen Ltd, being paid £7,199 while Warwick had £2,063 paid into his account and £5,000 into his parents’ account.
But questioned by Mr Heywood while giving evidence, Warwick denied that the payments he received were “backhanders” from Millard for any illegal activity.
He said he carried out consultancy work for Millard to provide information which would help him present targeted tenders for work with other CRPs including West Mercia.
But he said he did not consider that to be a conflict of interest because he was not employed by those other bodies, and it did not involve material from funded research he had carried out for the West Midlands CRP.
Mr Heywood asked why he had not made the arrangement public or asked his employers what their attitude was to him doing such work.
Warwick, who said the information he provided was “in the public domain”, replied: “I considered it to be a private agreement. West Midlands Police had profited from my skills and knowledge. There was nothing wrong in what I was doing.”
The prosecution must now decide whether to have a retrial on the charge against Warwick.