A private investigator retained by Tottenham Hotspur who obtained West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady’s telephone records at the height of the Olympic Stadium bidding process has been arrested on suspicion of fraud offences.
Howard Hill, a former partner at accountancy firm PKF, was arrested on Wednesday in Cheshire and taken into custody. Police searched a residential address and removed documents.
PKF and Hill, a senior corporate investigator, were engaged by Tottenham to carry out unspecified investigations at the culmination of the bidding process for the stadium, which was won by West Ham. Hill resigned from the company in December.
West Ham called in the police after an exposé appeared in the Sunday Times revealing that a director of the Olympic Park Legacy Company had undertaken paid consultancy work for the club.
The story referred to information gleaned from private telephone records, and in a civil action brought by West Ham last November PKF admitted that it did have copies of Brady’s records.
The court heard that PKF admitted Hill and two colleagues had passed the telephone records to the Sunday Times.
In a statement the Metropolitan Police said: “On 11 January 2012 a man, 57, was arrested at an address in Cheshire on suspicion of fraud offences and was taken into custody at a Cheshire police station. He was later bailed to return in Feb. 2012 pending further inquiries. As part of their inquiries detectives conducted a search of the residential property.”
On Friday night PKF said in a statement: “Howard Hill resigned from the firm on Dec 15 and we have not had any communication with him since.”
Two other men were arrested in connection with the case last November, a 29 year-old from Sussex and a 39 year-old from Surrey. Both were bailed until mid-February.
In court PKF and Hill denied being “engaged in any unlawful activity” to obtain the phone records or employing any third parties to do so.
Lawyers for Tottenham told the court that the club had not received a copy of Brady’s phone records, and in a statement denied any involvement in illegal activity.
“Tottenham Hotspur did not instruct PKF to engage in any unlawful activity and PKF have confirmed that they did not,” it said in a statement.
Baroness Ford, the chairman of the OPLC, has also alleged that her board were put under surveillance by Tottenham, a claim denied by the club, which described it as “appalling”.