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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 20:48 GMT 21:48 UK
Police raid on UUP man's offices
UUP councillor Michael Copeland
UUP councillor Michael Copeland said he had done nothing illegal
An Ulster Unionist assembly member's home and his two political offices in Belfast have been raided by police.

Police visited the home of Michael Copeland on the Gilnahirk Road and removed a computer, bank statements, credit cards and mobile phones.

Mr Copeland, 53, said police told him they were looking into an allegation made against him over the sale of land. He denies any wrong-doing.

Police said searches were carried out in a money laundering investigation.

Officers visited Mr Copeland's office at Castlereagh Borough Council and his assembly office at Albertbridge Road, during the raids on Friday morning.

It has the whiff of a dirty tricks campaign and the feel of a crude attempt to smear my reputation and that of my colleagues in the run up to a general election
Michael Copeland

He said the properties were searched as part of an investigation into the sale, or proposed sale, of property or land at Dundonald Ice Bowl, Moat Park and Geary Road.

Mr Copeland said: "In so far as I am aware I have crossed no boundaries and I have done nothing illegal, nor have I ever received any benefit as a result of being a councillor.

"I wish to make it clear that I feel that I am not in any way implicated in any wrong-doing.

'Money laundering probe'

"Furthermore, I feel that there is something malicious at the back of this.

"It has the whiff of a dirty tricks campaign and the feel of a crude attempt to smear my reputation and that of my colleagues in the run up to a general election.

"If this is the objective of those involved I regret to inform them that I will not be deterred by such crude attempts to slander my name."

In a statement, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said: "As part of an investigation into money laundering, police have carried out a number of searches at premises in the east Belfast and Castlereagh areas.

"Two production orders have been executed under the Proceeds of Crime act in the Castlereagh and north Down areas."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Ulster Unionist Michael Copeland
talks about the police raids on his property



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