Wisbech councillor Simon King says he is disappointed that he will face a full conduct committee hearing but is determined to prove he is innocent of all wrong-doing over his expense claims.
A Fenland Council conduct committee hearing decided today (Wednesday) to have an independent investigation into all issues raised by Coun King’s case in which he allegedly over-claimed his mileage claims over several years.
It took the committee just 10 minutes to decide they wanted a full investigation with Coun Rob Skoulding being the first to suggest the move, which will involve an independent investigator looking into the case including speaking to Coun King about his expense claims.
Deputy monitoring officer Fiona Mcmillan assured councillors she knew suitable firms and suggested seeking quotes and also a timescale before councillors appoint an independent investigator.
Coun Sam Hoy, who chaired the meeting, said: “The investigation needs to be carried out by an external investigator, it would not be right for Fenland to investigate.”
It was agreed whoever is appointed will look into all correspondence between council officers and Coun King as well as looking at the allegations against him, which were first raised by Fenland’s monitoring officer Carol Pilson last autumn.
Coun King, who sat in the public gallery for today’s brief meeting, said afterwards he was disappointed the committee had not dismissed the case against him, but said: “Obviously I’m disappointed they haven’t just thrown the case out. This case is really about council policy and the way officers have interpreted it. I hope the independent investigator looks into the whole issue properly and interviews not only myself but also the officer who wrote the expenses policy.
“I expect to be fully exonerated, it beggars believe that it has got this far. I believe the officer who first raised the matter has got so entrenched it is now difficult to pull back - sometimes it is hard to stop, once you have started digging.”
A date for the full conduct hearing will be set once an investigator has been appointed and the council has more of an idea of the timescale involved, but Coun Hoy said: “This has dragged for a long time already, so we need to get it resolved as soon as possible.”