THE managing director of Darlington Auction Mart has left the company following an internal investigation, The Northern Echo has learned.

Andrew Armstrong “left his employment with Darlington Farmers Auction Mart with immediate effect”, a statement from the company said.

But the mart’s new chairman Paul Allison refused to say whether Mr Armstrong had left by mutual agreement or had been sacked.

He also declined to comment on the ongoing police investigation into the mart’s finances, or whether Mr Armstrong leaving had anything to do with the investigation.

Shareholders and mart customers remain in the dark about the nature of the alleged “financial irregularities” which are being investigated by Durham Constabulary, or why Mr Armstrong has left the mart.

Mr Allison would not give any more details when contacted by The Northern Echo yesterday.

He would only say: “It is business as usual at the mart.

“We are heading into our busiest time of year and the build of the new mart at Humbleton is running on budget and on schedule.”

Mr Armstrong was suspended from his position as senior auctioneer and managing director of the company in July.

In August, almost the entire board of directors stepped down, with only Mr Armstrong and financial director Richard Heseltine remaining, while Mr Allison replaced Tony Ward as the chairman.

Durham Police are carrying out inquiries into “allegations of financial irregularity” at the mart, but have said the inquiry is in its early stages.

The mart is in the process of building a new site on the edge of the town, at Humbleton Farm near Burtree, moving from the site it has occupied for many years, in Clifton Road, just off Darlington town centre.