Housebuilder suspends London MD after arrests

Barratt Developments has suspended a senior executive after he was arrested following an internal inquiry into suspected misconduct.

Alastair Baird, regional managing director for London, and another former Barratt London employee have been arrested this morning after the company referred initial findings to the Metropolitan Police in April.

Gary Ennis, regional managing director for Southern Region, will take interim responsibility for the London and Southern Regions.

Possible misconduct

Barratt’s inquiry began in August 2015 following an internal audit and relates to “possible misconduct in the process for awarding and managing certain material and sub-contract supply contracts in the London region”.

The investigation led to civil action in October 2015 against an employee who was dismissed in February 2016.

After the initial findings, the housebuilder appointed an accounting firm to conduct an external review of the controls relating to the tendering and procurement process in the London business.

As a result Barratt has adopted additional controls.

The company said in a statement that it does not anticipate “any material adverse financial effect” as a result of the investigation, with its shares up +1.61 per cent at the time of writing.

“Committed”

Barratt CEO David Thomas said:

“We are committed to meeting the highest ethical standards in all aspects of our business. We have acted decisively, launching our own thorough and comprehensive investigation and referring the matter to the Metropolitan Police. 

 “I am confident that Gary Ennis and the London Board will ensure that Barratt London continues to deliver successfully, and remains a trusted, valued partner to its stakeholders.

 “We will continue to cooperate fully with the Metropolitan Police and to conduct our own investigation into these matters.  We will take whatever action is required to ensure our values and standards are upheld.”

Baird background

According to the housebuilder’s website, Baird was appointed in his current role in 2011 having joined the firm as a site manager in 1987. Baird led the acquisition of land with a capacity for over 6,000 homes and established joint ventures with L&Q, British Land and Morgan Stanley. He is described as “one of the most experienced and respected residential developers” and “a dynamic leader with a reputation for delivering successful high-value, complex and award-winning urban regeneration schemes”.

In June Barratt partnered up with Sentinel Housing Association to deliver nearly 600 homes in Basingstoke, over 200 of which for both affordable rent and shared ownership.
In 2010, the housebuilder teamed up with L&Q to work on the Altitude residential tower. The two organisations then set up a joint venture in 2013 and have been involved in various developments across London including major schemes such as Queensland Terrace in Islington (delivering 375 units), Nine Elms (645 units) and Fulham Riverside (462 units).