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Police face probe as trial folds.

FIVE police officers from the West Midlands drugs squad are set to face a probe after an Old Bailey arms trial collapsed.

The Director of Public Prosecutions will be asked by a judge to launch an investigation.

Prosecutor John Bevan QC said the officers concerned had acted in a "corrupt" manner during a probe into gun-running.

The team's involvement only came to light in the last two weeks, and Judge David Paget QC said "potentially damaging" evidence had been revealed. The scandal centres around allegations that a corrupt former police officer joined News Team international news agency in Birmingham, and tried to sell a gun-running story to the News of the World.

The court heard that the initial allegation concerned drugs.

But it was claimed there is a tape recording of an informant saying journalists had told him guns were "better from our point of view" than drugs.

The case involved an alleged pounds 3 million of arms intended for Irish terrorist groups. Four men were arrested and charged with arms offences as a result of a subsequent probe by the National Crime Squad.

But Pierre Daskas, aged 49, from Italy, Michael Karacostas, aged 41, from Athens, Christos Ieronymides, aged 45, a resident in London and Fotios Plantanidis, aged 41 from Serbia, walked free from court yesterday when the Crown offered no evidence.

The four each denied conspiracy counts stating they were involved with four named other "and others."

Judge Paget told Mr Bevan: ''I don't think it's appropriate for me to say where the blame lies.

''It seems to me I ought to refer these papers to the DPP. There will obviously be a police investigation in any event.''
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 27, 1999
Words:280
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