“I will fight this all the way to a judicial review if I have to” says Fenland’s Simon King as he launches counter attack in expenses row

Councillor Simon King has strongly denied wrong doing over his expense claims as he prepares to face a conduct hearing next week.
Councillor Simon King has strongly denied wrong doing over his expense claims as he prepares to face a conduct hearing next week.

A conduct hearing on alleged expenses irregularities by Fenland councillor Simon King has been postponed after he submitted a nine-point formal complaint against the way the case has been handled.

Coun King alleges the council and in particular its monitoring officer Carol Pilson have failed to follow the correct procedures and says he wants a full apology on the front page of local newspapers for “this flawed process and baseless allegations which have seriously damaged my reputation”.

Fenland’s conduct committee was due to meet yesterday (Tuesday) to determine whether Coun King had breached the council’s code of conduct with allegedly misclaiming mileage expenses over the past six years.

But his complaint, submitted to chief executive Paul Medd on Wednesday, means the process has been halted until the varacity of his allegations against the council can be determined.

Speaking to the Citizen on Friday Coun King said he would take his complaint “all the way to a judicial review if necessary” - so confident is he that the council has failed to follow its own procedures correctly.

“They really have not followed their own procedures in any of this and I am very much for sticking to procedure - that is why I am going to fight this all the way. There are so many things Fenland have done, which I believe they should not have done.

“I also feel the council’s response has been totally disproportionate. In so many cases where I have alleged to have misclaimed I did not even receive any payment. I was not aware of the Google Maps requirement and a lot of the cases against me have been done retrospectively using Google - quite frankly this is bureaucracy gone mad.

“I am not a rich man but I am prepared to take this to a judicial review if necessary so this is likely to drag on for sometime. To be honest this has been an absolutely horrible few months for me,” he said.

Coun King’s complaint includes nine points, among them is the sugggestion the council did not follow its own members’ mileage allowance policy by disallowing claims when he travelled to meetings at Fenland Hall from a starting point other than his home. He also claims it failed to follow the policy by disallowing claims that were not the shortest route according to Google Maps.

He believes the monitoring office failed to follow procedure by reporting the matter to the police and he also alleges the monitoring officer failed to “differentiate her roles as head of member services and the monitoring officer”.

He also says the monitoring officer “misunderstood the application of Section 5 (2) of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, and she purported to deal with

a complaint arising under the Code of Conduct in her capacity as monitoring officer”.

Coun King says she then compounded her error by failing to act in accordance with the requirements of that section.

And finally he argues the monitoring officer has also breached procedure by appointing a deputy monitoring officer who is not directly employed by the council.

A spokesman for Fenland Council said: “it would be inappropriate for us to make any formal comment at this stage.”