Police Chief Inspector with £2.5m property portfolio owed thousands to 'crooked developer'

A police chief inspector with a £2.5million property portfolio owed thousands of pounds to an alleged 'crooked' developer who was at the centre of a major criminal investigation, a misconduct panel has heard.

Chief Inspector Stephen Rice, of Merseyside Police, is accused of lying about regularly contacting the prime suspect in a probe into potential large-scale property fraud.

The 24-year veteran of the force is accused of failing to disclose the money owed to the suspect, who can only be referred to as 'Mr A' for legal reasons and was described as a 'long standing associate' of actor-turned-drug dealer Desmond 'Dessie' Bayliss

Chief Insp. Rice is also alleged to have used the police database to snoop on Bayliss and one of his associates without 'proper policing purpose', as well as paying a company to write his dissertation for him so he could pass his Masters degree.

The police officer is not accused of any involvement in criminal offences and denies wrongdoing.

Chief Inspector Stephen Rice (pictured here in his uniform) is accused of lying about contacting the suspect in a major criminal investigation

The suspect in the case, known as Mr A, is described by Merseyside Police intelligence as a 'long standing associate' of actor-turned-drug dealer Desmond Bayliss (pictured here in his mugshot in 2011

A police misconduct panel convened at Merseyside Police HQ on Tuesday to determine if he breached professional standards of behaviour on multiple occasions - he faces being sacked and banned from the profession if found guilty of gross misconduct.

The main allegations centre on Chief Insp. Rice's connections with Mr A, who is being looked into by the Economic Crime Team in a probe called Operation Benadir - an investigation allegations of large-scale property fraud, the Liverpool Echo reports.

The independent panel, presided over by Legally Qualified Chair (LQC) Callum Cowx, heard that the police officer bought rental properties worth a total of more than £2m from Mr A between 2012 and 2016 after a sit-down between the pair in a Costa Coffee café on Old Hall Street in the city centre.

It is alleged those transactions involved Mr A handing him 'significant' interest free lo...