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Flintshire County Council, County Hall, Mold, Flintshire CH7 6NB 01352 752121 Click here to contact them

 


 

Friday, 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.

The 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

Andy Sutton claims he was pressurised to drop cases

 

Under pressure

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.

Giving 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.

 

The 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.

 

'Efforts rejected'

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?