Internal GMP probe finds no corruption in Operation Holly investigation

An internal inquiry into allegations that a prominent Manchester criminal underworld figure had a corrupt relationship with officers has found no grounds for concern.  

Jan 22, 2019
By Tony Thompson
GMP: Flying the flag at half mast

Paul Massey, also known as Salford’s ‘Mr Big’, had a reputation as a leading player in Greater Manchester’s underworld until he was killed as part of a gang feud in a doorstep machine gun attack in July 2015. 

At the time of his death, Massey and his alleged associates were under investigation by Titan, the northwest regional organised crime unit, as part of Operation Holly, which had been launched in 2011.  

The inquiry had 55 suspects, six of whom were arrested, including Massey. In a police interview, one of the suspects made extensive admissions about money laundering and officers believed that they had uncovered evidence related to fraudulent trading, fraud by false representation, false accounting and cheating the revenue.  

In June 2018, after reviewing a file of evidence, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was no realistic prospect of conviction and all suspects were told that they would face no further action.  

The CPS allegedly told police that the corruption allegations needed to be fully investigated before a charging decision was made as they could potentially undermine the case, but no action was taken. Instead, Operation Holly, which had cost £3.5 million, was shut down. 

Allegations then emerged in a national newspaper that the investigation had collapsed because of claims Massey had police officers in his pocket and that “brown envelopes full of cash” had been handed to numerous police officers on multiple occasions. One particular allegation involved a mysterious phone call that had been made to the office of one of the suspect firms just 15 minutes before the police raided it.  

It prompted Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to instruct its counter corruption unit to examine the claims. The force said in a statement: “The GMP Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) has conducted a thorough review of the Operation Holly investigation.  

“The findings of this review have been shared with the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), who have concluded that there are no issues which require referral to them or further investigation by the ACU. The conclusions of the ACU review have also been shared with the CPS.” 

An IOPC spokesperson said: “Following the publication of allegations of serious corruption in a national newspaper we asked GMP to carry out a scoping exercise to establish the exact nature of the allegations. GMP has shared the findings of this exercise with us and we are satisfied that there are no conduct matters that need to be independently investigated.”

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