Northern Ireland

'Misconduct' found in Court Service probe

The Court Service has said a small number of its staff acted with "varying degrees of misconduct" following the findings of an internal investigation.

The inquiry began in 2005 when two senior officials were discovered to have gone on holiday aboard the yacht of a private contractor.

The contractor had deals with the Court Service worth almost £5m.

The inquiry found no concerns over how contracts were handled.

In all, four people were disciplined. Three are still at work, but the former head of procurement, Brian Lowry, is believed to have retired.

Mr Lowry had been one of those who took a holiday on a yacht belonging to Richard Maybin, who was then managing director of Maybin Support Services.

The investigation and disciplinary process took five years because of a delay caused by a police inquiry into the awarding of contracts, but no charges were ever brought.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the BBC obtained a copy of the internal inquiry report carried out by a retired civil servant.

Part of the inquiry examined hospitality and in 2005 found "a fairly widespread culture" of acceptance of small gifts. The Court Service has since toughened up rules and procurement is now handled within the Department of Finance and Personnel.