The spy camera saga at Leeds United took another sensational twist yesterday (Thursday) after former managing director David Haigh claimed the surveillance devices were installed following reports Class A drugs were being used at Elland Road.
Mr Haigh, who quit the club last month, made the claims after being interviewed under caution by West Yorkshire Police over allegations thousands of pounds in club money were fraudulently used to pay for spy cameras at the ground.
He attended a police station voluntarily and was spoken to by detectives less than a month after new owner Massimo Cellino discovered the surveillance equipment during a security sweep of the ground.
In a statement released yesterday afternoon, the 36-year-old said he had given a “full statement to police officers” investigating complaints made by the club’s new majority shareholders that cameras were found at Elland Road.
He said: “As the former Managing Director of the club, David was fully aware of the installation of these devices which were quite properly paid for by the club.
“They were put in place following reports which he received between the end of January and early March this year alleging the recent misuse of Class A drugs. One of these reports was made by police.
“It was, and remains, David’s view that not to have taken action to seek to provide evidence against the alleged perpetrators would have been in breach of his duty as a fit and proper person to be handling the day to day running of a Football League club.
“David is of the firm belief that illegal drugs have no place in football. He will continue to co-operate fully with any police or other enquiries.”
Though the discovery of the cameras at Elland Road were not in themselves enough to prompt a criminal probe, West Yorkshire Police have confirmed they are looking into alleged misappropriation of funds.
The investigation was confirmed by the force on April 11, the same day Mr Haigh resigned as managing director and quit the club, saying he had no alternative “owing to various statements made by and on behalf of the new majority owners”.
His resignation is not thought to have been connected to the on-going police case.
No arrests have been made and the club has not yet commented on the investigation. It is not known who had the cameras fitted.
Interviews under caution are carried out when police have grounds to suspect someone of an offence, though the person being interviewed may still attend on a voluntary basis.
If they are suspected of an offence the person must be cautioned before being asked any further questions, as unless this is done their answers or silence cannot be used in court.
Mr Haigh, 36, joined Leeds as a director in November 2012 after Gulf Finance House’s takeover of the club. He became managing director in July 2013.
He led a proposed takeover of the club by Sport Capital in November 2013 but the bid collapsed in January, allowing Cagliari president Massimo Cellino to step in and buy Leeds.
Mr Haigh was due to become club chief executive under Cellino but resigned as managing director and quit the club on April 11 after Cellino completed his 75 per cent takeover and threatened to sack him.
In his resignation statement, Mr Haigh said: “Owing to various statements made by and on behalf of the new majority owners of Leeds United FC, I am left with no alternative than to resign as managing director of the club.”
In November 2013, Sport Capital made two loans to United, one for £950,000 and another for £825,000. The money was predominately personal cash put up by Mr Haigh and was used to pay United’s operating costs amid growing financial pressures at Elland Road.
The loan of £825,000 has been largely repaid but the second loan of £950,000 is still owed to Sport Capital.
The company requested repayment of the money last month but Cellino failed to meet a deadline of April 24 .
Sport Capital has since issued a winding-up petition against the club, which is due to be heard in the Royal Courts of Justice in London on June 9.
A spokesman for Leeds United declined to comment on Mr Haigh’s claims.