A SHOPPING centre manager has been arrested on suspicion of theft from the business.
Mike Weston, pictured, has been suspended from his position at Castle Dene shopping centre in Peterlee and has been questioned by police.
Durham Constabulary has said the 63-year-old has been released on bail until next month pending further inquiries.
Inspector Dave Coxon, of Peterlee Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We have commenced an investigation into a theft following an allegation made by Castle Dene and have arrested a 63-year-old male who has been released on bail pending further enquiries.”
Neither Durham Police nor the owner of the centre have revealed any more information about the nature of the allegations.
However, Salford Estates, which owns the centre, said it could confirm Mr Weston has been suspended.
A spokeswoman for Salford Estates added: “We cannot comment further at this point in time.”
It is understood Mr Weston, from the Trimdon area, was questioned by police earlier this month.
The Echo was unable to reach Mr Weston for comment.
Mr Weston was put into the spotlight in 2008 when the centre’s Christmas tree was branded “an insult to Peterlee” and likened to a toilet brush, as reported in the Echo.
The outcry was covered by television news channels and national newspapers, with the Forestry Commission coming to the rescue with a suitable replacement.
Mr Weston has worked at the shopping centre under a series of owners including Modus, Oracle Estates and Kenmore,
Castle Dene was sold to Salford Estates last year after Kenmore, which bought the site in 2006, went in to administration.