The Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Barry Gilligan, has said he is confident he and the other directors of his property company will be completely vindicated.

His comment comes following the police investigation into a development site in north Belfast.

Earlier the PSNI searched an office at the Board's headquarters and Mr Gilligan's house and removed a number of items for examination.

Mr Gilligan, who is currently on leave from the position after undergoing heart surgery, said he would be seeking to return as Board chairman at the start of next month, when the Board is due to meet.

In a statement this afternoon, Mr Gilligan said that since the investigation began, he, along with the other directors of Big Picture Developments, had been cooperating fully with the PSNI.

He acknowledged that it was his responsibility to assist the police in whatever way possible in the conduct of their inquiries and said he would expect no less and would give no less.

He said he and the other directors continued to make themselves and their company files totally available to the PSNI in order to clear matters up as speedily as possible and were confident that they would be completely vindicated.

To that end, he said, he had agreed to meet the PSNI voluntarily in the coming days at a mutually convenient time.

Mr Gilligan said he had originally intended following heart surgery to return to his role as Chairman of the Policing Board before the end of the summer.

In light of the recent activity by the PSNI, his coronary condition and the dignity of the office of Chairman he now felt he should not return to the role at this time.

But he said he intended, with the support of his board colleagues, to return to the role of Chairman as soon as possible and would be seeking the Board's support when it meets again at the start of next month.

DUP Policing Board member Jimmy Spratt said Mr Gilligan should only return to the chairmanship when the police investigation is completed.

'I think if any organisation was faced with a situation like this it would be only right for the individual to voluntarily step aside until the case is resolved,' he said.

'That is in no way an implication of guilt or anything else, it's just that the board has some major issues to address in the near future and the focus must be on those.'