THE former managing director of under-investigation Darlington Farmers Auction Mart has been removed from the board by shareholders.

The mart was thrown into turmoil in the summer when Durham Constabulary began an investigation into 'financial irregularities'.

Now an extraordinary general meeting has been held for shareholders to decide the future of the board.

And The Northern Echo understands that Andrew Armstrong, who stood down as managing director and chief auctioneer at the mart in August following an internal investigation, was removed from the board by an 'overwhelming majority' of voting shareholders at the meeting.

Financial director Richard Heseltine also officially resigned his position on the board of directors.

They were the last two original directors to remain on the board after almost all of the other directors stood down and were replaced in August.

Chairman Paul Allison, who had stood in as chair temporarily after the resignation of former chair Tony Ward in the summer, has now stepped aside but will remain on the board. Mark Dent, who was already a director, is now chairman.

Darlington Mart is in the process of moving from its outdated, town centre-site in Clifton Road to a purpose-built new building at Humbleton Farm, near Burtree on the outskirts of Darlington.

A source said: "The meeting was very positive and shareholders are looking forward to the move."

However other shareholders were said to have expressed fears over the future of the new mart, which is scheduled to open late spring 2020.

Last week, a spokeswoman for Durham Constabulary said a police investigation into the alleged financial irregularities was ongoing.

It is understood the inquiry is more wide-ranging than first thought and will take some time.

Shareholders and mart customers remain in the dark about the true nature of the alleged irregularities.

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

He then left in August, following the internal investigation, but it was not made clear if he left the position by mutual agreement or was sacked.