Investigator says Fenland’s monitoring officer did nothing wrong so now Simon King must face conduct hearing over his expenses
Wisbech councillor Simon King will finally face Fenland’s Conduct Committee over his expense claims next week after an independent investigator threw-out his counter complaint against the council’s monitoring officer.
A previous committee hearing into allegations that Coun King misclaimed mileage expenses over six years was postponed after he submitted a formal complaint against monitoring officer Carol Pilson.
Mrs Pilson was the person who first raised concern over Coun King’s mileage expenses and not only referred it to the council’s conduct committee but also to the police at the end of last year.
Cambridgeshire Police decided not to progress the complaint and the matter was due to go before the conduct committee in February.
However, Coun King’s own nine-point letter of complaint against Mrs Pilson in which he accused her of acting outside her remit as monitoring officer, and said her conclusions against him were based on “flawed interpretation of the council’s policy”, halted the process while that was investigated.
But, Richard Penn, an independet external investigator appointed by Fenland’s chief executive Paul Medd to look into Coun King’s complaint, concluded Mrs Pilson had done nothing wrong.
In conclusion of his detailed report on each of Coun King’s nine points of complaint, Mr Penn said: “Given my conclusions that none of the specific allegations against the monitoring officer by Coun King amount to potential misconduct or poor performance by her in her role as the council’s monitoring officer, my advice is that there is no potential case to answer which needs to be further investigated.”
As a result a new date for the conduct committee has been set for next Wednesday (4), when the panel will consider a swathe of allegations against Coun King over his expense claims dating from April 2011 to October 2012.
According to a 108-page dossier on the case against him there were instances where 100 per cent of journeys were allegedly misclaimed.
However, Coun King, who rigorously denies any wrongdoing, has previously described the process as “a witch hunt” and claims he is the only one of Fenland’s 39 members to have their expenses put under the microscope in this fashion.
The depth of the allegations against the Wisbech councillor were made public ahead of last month’s postponed conduct committee hearing.
Following a pre-screening process carried out by independent members of the conduct committee, legal advisers and committee chairman Coun Sam Hoy on February 8, it was unanimously agreed Coun King may have breached the Code of Conduct and the case should go before the committee.
The recommendation for next Wednesday is that members either dismiss the case against Coun King or commission an investigation to consider all of the issues raised and allow Coun King the opportunity to be heard at a hearing.