Barratt's London boss held over probe into contracts

The London boss of housebuilding giant Barratt Developments has been arrested after an investigation into alleged misconduct in the process for awarding contracts.

Barratt pledged to take action to 'ensure our values and standards are upheld'. Picture: Sean Bell

Metropolitan Police arrested Alastair Baird, regional managing director for the London region, and one other former Barratt London employee on Wednesday morning, according to the group. It has suspended Baird following the arrest.

The arrests come after Barratt referred findings of an internal investigation to the police in April following an audit relating to possible misconduct in the process for awarding and managing supply contracts in the London region.

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Barratt said it began the investigation in August 2015, which also led to civil legal action against an employee, who was sacked in February this year. The firm, which is listed on the FTSE 100 index of blue chip companies, said it does not expect a material financial hit following the investigation.

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Chief executive David Thomas said: “We have acted decisively, launching our own thorough and comprehensive investigation and referring the matter to the Metropolitan Police.”

He added: “We will continue to co-operate fully with the Metropolitan Police and to conduct our own investigation into these matters. We will take whatever action is required to ensure our values and standards are upheld.”

Barratt said Gary Ennis, currently regional managing director for the south, will also on take on responsibility for Barratt London on an interim basis following Baird’s suspension.

The group said it hired an accounting firm to carry out an external review after its internal investigation, and has since tightened up controls for the contract awards process in its London business.

It added that the London business has its own processes for awarding contracts, given the “one-off nature” of London construction projects.

Baird joined Barratt as a site manager in 1987 and was promoted to London managing director in 2011, overseeing a division employing more than 650 staff. He previously headed up Barratt’s east and west London divisions.