Caerphilly Council boss urges caution on 'unlawful' payments scandal

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THE interim head of Caerphilly Council moved to reassure councillors over the arrest of senior officers and the unlawful payments scandal which has dominated recent headlines.

The council’s chief executive Anthony O’Sullivan and his deputy Nigel Barnett were arrested in July this year on suspicion of fraud and misconduct in public office after huge pay rises were awarded to 21 senior officials at the authority. They have been bailed until January.

At a full council meeting on Tuesday, acting chief executive Stuart Rosser stressed that police investigations were still ongoing and that while there were grounds for concern people should not be too quick to condemn. He said the council would conduct its own investigation but couldn’t do that until the police investigation was complete.

Councillors were given a report explaining the issue more closely after members demanded to know more about the background and what action would be taken, in particular whether the council would seek to recover any money.

Rosser said: “I recognise it’s an important issue, I recognise it’s a sensitive issue. We need to establish the facts. Once we establish the facts we will come back to you. We still haven’t heard any more in terms of the police investigation.

“Nobody yet has been found guilty. The reality is these individuals are being tarred without the opportunity of the right to reply. There are an awful lot of good officers who are being looked at in a particular way. I think they would welcome the opportunity to be answerable to their actions.”

Mr O’Sullivan and Mr Barnett are accused of granting unlawful payments totalling £483,833 between March and September last year, made up of £270,000 in pay rises to senior members and £218,563 in the “buy-out” of unused car user allowances and additional annual leave from senior staff.

In a public report, Mr Rosser said: “In order to form a proper judgement on these issues the Council will need to await all the relevant information from various enquiries i.e. Police investigations, PWC [the auditor’s] investigations and any subsequent internal enquiries.”

Mr Rosser warned it could be more costly to try to recover the money than to let it go.

Comments (2)

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11:42am Thu 21 Nov 13

Realist UK says...

It's pleasing to note Mr Rosser is a great believer of internal investigations. Perhaps he should advise residents when the investigation into the £156.000 costs of employee surveillance will be conducted and the allegation of giving that contract which bypassed the authority's procurement process.
It's pleasing to note Mr Rosser is a great believer of internal investigations. Perhaps he should advise residents when the investigation into the £156.000 costs of employee surveillance will be conducted and the allegation of giving that contract which bypassed the authority's procurement process. Realist UK

1:38pm Thu 21 Nov 13

Trefor says...

"Acting chief executive Stuart Rosser stressed that police investigations were still ongoing and that while there were grounds for concern people should not be too quick to condemn.".

In making the above statement to Councillors and others, Stuart Rosser forgets a VERY, VERY important point, the entire debacle was raised and discovered by the highest qualified, experienced, and legally sensitive officers of the Auditor General for Wales Office when they undertook an Audit of the Caerphilly Council`s processes and activities under the stewardship of the, now, suspended officers. It was their report which identified the actions of these accused officers as being UNLAWFUL ACTIVITY INVOLVING PUBLIC MONEY, so, for the Interim Chief Executive to CAUTION the Council and Councillors in rushing to judgement on the issues is crass, the Auditor General has made a professional assessment of the actions of those suspended officers, and no-one has yet countered that judgment yet.

It maybe that the Police will find that the Auditor General for Wales and his Staff did not do their job properly, that their professional role in policing welsh local authorities is flawed, and that the findings in their report was absolutely wrong, that being the case, and Stuart Rosser may have already been given prior knowledge of the Avon Police findings, then of course he is correct to caution a rush to judgment, but, all the indications made public up to now do not support such a scenario
"Acting chief executive Stuart Rosser stressed that police investigations were still ongoing and that while there were grounds for concern people should not be too quick to condemn.". In making the above statement to Councillors and others, Stuart Rosser forgets a VERY, VERY important point, the entire debacle was raised and discovered by the highest qualified, experienced, and legally sensitive officers of the Auditor General for Wales Office when they undertook an Audit of the Caerphilly Council`s processes and activities under the stewardship of the, now, suspended officers. It was their report which identified the actions of these accused officers as being UNLAWFUL ACTIVITY INVOLVING PUBLIC MONEY, so, for the Interim Chief Executive to CAUTION the Council and Councillors in rushing to judgement on the issues is crass, the Auditor General has made a professional assessment of the actions of those suspended officers, and no-one has yet countered that judgment yet. It maybe that the Police will find that the Auditor General for Wales and his Staff did not do their job properly, that their professional role in policing welsh local authorities is flawed, and that the findings in their report was absolutely wrong, that being the case, and Stuart Rosser may have already been given prior knowledge of the Avon Police findings, then of course he is correct to caution a rush to judgment, but, all the indications made public up to now do not support such a scenario Trefor

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