Five detectives were jailed for two years in one of the biggest corruption scandals to hit Scotland Yard, it was revealed today.

The media ban on reporting the cases was lifted when legal proceedings were completed at the Old Bailey.

The five former or serving Flying Squad officers were convicted for a range of corruption offences - including stealing a £200,000 share from a £1.4 million armed robbery.

They were arrested as part of Operation Ethiopia, a three year investigation by the Met's Anti-Corruption Command, formally known as CIB3.

Detective Constable Terence McGuinness and retired Detective Constable Kevin Garner were each sentenced to seven years jail in 2000 and January 2001. They pleaded guilty to a range of offences including conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and conspiracy to steal.

Detective Constable David Howell, Detective Sergeant Eamonn Harris and retired Detective Inspector Fred May were sentenced to seven years jail in January 2001.

The court heard how the officers stole over £200,000 of the proceeds of a £1.4million robbery. Their convictions were upheld by the Court of Appeal in February 2003.

Detective Chief Superintendent Shaun Sawyer leads the Met's Anti-Corruption Command said: "Operation Ethiopia is one of the biggest anti-corruption investigations ever to be undertaken by a UK police force.

"We uncovered some extremely serious offences committed by serving police officers. The way in which we have dealt with these is a mark of our determination to remove corruption wherever it impacts upon the Metropolitan Police."

The operation was launched in January 1998 after two former Flying Squad officers, Terence McGuinness and Kevin Garner, made allegations of corruption against serving and retired officers they had worked with.

Garner and McGuinness had themselves been subject to an anti-corruption probe and were arrested in 1997. Following their arrest they elected to become informants who gave information about other corrupt officers they had worked with.

They were debriefed over a period of weeks and Operation Ethiopia was born. Garner told police of one occasion where officers had stolen the proceeds from a £1.4 million armed robbery. The robbery took place on a Security Express van in South East London in January 1995.

DC David Howell, DS Eamonn Harris and former DI Fred May all worked on the investigation together. Garner alleged that the officers used a participating informant who had been released from prison on the pretext of helping police.

Instead he took part in committing a £1.4 million robbery on a security van. The Flying Squad at Rigg Approach then became involved in the investigation and seized the opportunity to use the informant to steal £200,000 from the proceeds of the robbery before sending him back to jail.

Howell, Harris and May were arrested by the Anti-Corruption Command in 1998. They went on trial at the Old Bailey in October 2000 and in January 2001 were convicted of conspiracy to steal and pervert the course of justice. All three were sentenced to seven years in prison.

DCS Sawyer said: "These police officers abused their positions of trust to steal the proceeds of a major crime and in doing so became criminals themselves. They went to great lengths to cover their tracks. The Metropolitan Police Service will not allow actions like these to tarnish the reputation of the Flying Squad or any other part of the service.

“The overwhelming majority of our police officers are honest, brave and extremely hardworking, often in the most difficult of circumstances.”