FLINTSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL
Flintshire County Council, County Hall, Mold, Flintshire CH7 6NB 01352 752121 Click here to contact them
15 March, 2002, 17:17 GMT
Council shake-up blamed for audit row
A council chief has admitted he could have acted differently over allegations by an auditor that vital documents linked to fraud claims had been withheld. Former Flintshire County Council auditor Andy Sutton is seeking constructive dismissal, after "blowing the whistle" on senior officers.
At an industrial tribunal hearing in Shrewsbury, Flintshire chief executive Philip McGreevy said the authority had been undergoing restructuring in autumn 1999. Mr McGreevy said this had resulted in delays in key documents being released.
tribunal was told that requests had been made by the district auditor
for documents to be released to the internal audit department. Yet
months later, the documents were still outstanding. One of the
issues focused on a police letter about an illegal redundancy payment,
which was never produced.
Andy Sutton claims he was pressurised to drop cases
The district auditor was critical of senior officers' failure to release papers to Mr Sutton, who left the council while on sick leave last April. Earlier in the case, the hearing was told that Mr Sutton had come under pressure from Mr McGreevy to drop the four cases.
evidence, Liberal Democrat councillor Quentin Dodd said he was aware
that Mr Sutton had become a "thorn in the side" of senior
Flintshire officers. Councillor Dodd said opposition members
believed Mr Sutton's attempts to carry out his work were being blocked
and stifled by the authority's chief officers.
claims of information being withheld include the controversial purchase
of a £600,000 farm in Malpas, after a tenant farmer was moved from land
marked for development on Deeside.
But the business development later fell through and North Wales Police were called in to investigate the matter. In 2000, Mr Sutton and solicitor Mark Humphreys wrote a highly critical letter to all 70 Flintshire councillors about the problems they had experienced.
They alleged that since August 1999 efforts to gain direct access to documents, records and correspondence had either been rejected or met with "a wall of silence". The tribunal continues.
Wealden District Council insure with Zurich Municipal and still have no Whistle-blowing policy in place - coincidence or not?