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Three of Northern Ireland's most senior police officers are under investigation for misconduct &

Three of Northern Ireland's most senior police officers are under investigation for alleged misconduct in public office and criminality that could amount to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Chief Constable George Hamilton and his deputy Drew Harris are being investigated by the Police Ombudsman. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton is also under investigation. In a statement, the PSNI said they "completely refute the allegations".

The inquiry focuses on concerns about how the Police Service of Northern Ireland conducted an investigation into allegations of bribery and fraud in 2014.

It includes allegations that entries in police notebooks and journals were changed.

The inquiry focuses on concerns about how the Police Service of Northern Ireland conducted an investigation into allegations of bribery and fraud in 2014.

It includes allegations that entries in police notebooks and journals were changed.

In a statement to the BBC, the ombudsman's office confirmed "a number of allegations" had been made against a range of officers. BBC News NI has established that those under investigation include:

  • PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton

  • Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris

  • Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton

The nature of the complaints and the seniority of those under scrutiny make this investigation unprecedented. In terms of current policing issues, it's considered to be the most serious investigation the Ombudsman's office has undertaken.

The investigation was launched after the Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, received complaints from seven people questioned as part of an investigation into allegations of bribery and misconduct in public office in the awarding of PSNI vehicle contracts.

They included retired PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland, and the former Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, Mark Gilmore.

They were questioned in June 2014. Eighteen months later, the public prosecution service informed them that none would face any charges.

The Police Ombudsman has established a dedicated team of six investigators to examine the allegations about the PSNI investigation.

"They include allegations of criminality and misconduct in how this investigation was undertaken," added the Ombudsman's statement.

It's understood the alleged criminality being investigated includes claims that entries in police notebooks and journals were changed.There are also claims that the PSNI didn't follow proper procedures to obtain warrants.