Lack Of Trust Over Auditors’ Report Says Councillor

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough

A St Mary’s councillor says he’s outraged that only a select number of members have been allowed to see the Cornwall Council auditors’ report into events at the Five Islands School.

Four members have signed confidentiality agreements so they can receive it, but Gordon Bilsborough, who hasn’t viewed the report yet, wants the rest of the Council to have it if they are prepared to do the same.

He says not giving the report to the remaining seventeen councillors shows a lack of trust.

Chairman of Council Mike Hicks says he’s worried that the sensitive document could be passed around and is following legal advice.

Mike says there has been “leak after leak” and the Council could be hit with a massive fine for breaching data protection rules if details came out.

He says all councillors signed up to a code of conduct when they took office and the four people who have seen the report are in a privileged position because they’ve been involved with the case from the start.

Gordon also wasn’t happy that the administration officer told the chairman in yesterday’s Full Council meeting that there shouldn’t be any debate on the matter as the report wasn’t an item that appeared on the agenda.

That’s technically correct but Gordon feels that members need answers.

He has absolute confidence in the chair and vice chair of Council but says he will do his best to ensure the public can see as much of the report as possible.

Mike Hicks told Radio Scilly last night that there are no plans to release the report to councillors or the public at this stage, because the Council’s legal experts are reviewing it and the two Council officers who have been dealing with it, Penny Penn-Howard and Peter Lawrence-Roberts, are both on leave.

Mike says there is lots of, “mystery and confusion” surrounding the report and it’s a shame the process has gone on so long.

He said it’s frustrating that he can’t give out more information but he’s tied by the legal declaration.


9 Responses to Lack Of Trust Over Auditors’ Report Says Councillor

  1. Kev Wright December 13, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    What is this conflict of interest, Robin? If you’re referring to Mr Hick’s daughter in law making a complaint then that’s a totally separate incident not connected to what happened at the school. I can’t quite understand the point you’re trying to make.

  2. Robin December 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I still fail to understand how Mr Hicks can have anything to do with this report given the clear conflict of interest he has. The leak to Radio Scilly highlighting this should have been sufficient for him to immediately withdraw from the process. For him to now announce that there “are no plans to release the report” is not a surprise!

  3. Mark Prebble December 13, 2012 at 7:20 am

    In response to the anonymous comments above regarding public interest and the reasons provided for delaying publication of this report , I reckon I’m not alone in wondering where the answers to these questions may be found?

    Is it accepted that this audit was put into place to show transparency and accountability in the event of possible wrongdoing, as this one was, on the basis of allegations made against staff at the 5 Islands School?

    Is it accepted that this audit has now been completed in a legal and proper manner?

    Does this audit show evidence to support the original allegations?

    Does this audit show evidence of wrongdoing by any other party?

    Why has this audit processed personal data so that the Data Protection Act is required to prevent its publication?

    I appreciate that this may require some thought on the behalf of more experienced legal opinions than mine, however I trust the truth will out eventually and the public will be assured that a transparent and accountable process, demonstrating value for money, has been carried out on their behalf.

  4. Steven December 12, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    I am in no way suggesting the report should be disclosed to the public if that is not the appropriate course of action at this time. But I find myself asking exactly who is running the Council. Surely the Chair and Vice Chair should be above question. What right have non elected council employees to insist that the elected leaders of the Council sign confidentiality agreements before being shown a report?

  5. PAT HICKS December 12, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    I think Todd could be right, the council needs to be careful .
    softly softly……
    Hopefully it will all come out in due course .

  6. Nobby Nobbs December 12, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    As a tax payer, I paid for that report and I want to see it!
    Publish and be dammed Sir

  7. Chairman Miaow December 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I’m more than a little concerned at Cllr Bilsborough’s attitude towards such a potentially dangerous document.

    It could cost the Council a fortune if they aren’t sure that the data is for public consumption and were challenged on it.

    The other factor here is that there will be much change at the Council after the May elections and I fear that a few Councillors who will not be standing in May, or unlikely to be elected, may look to make some grand statements and ‘go out with a bang’, and it’ll be the Council who foot the bill for this.

    I am a Member of the public Gordon, I haven’t pressurised you for the report, there’s no rush, it’s just people wishing to rubberneck alongside a car crash. It’s human nature to want the gossip and you’re no different. So please don’t pretend there’s some vested public interest at play here, there’s been enough reasons given to suggest that the document be kept safe in the interest of the public purse.

    In the fullness of time we will all know the truth, now go and have some mince pies and enjoy the festive season.

  8. Todd Stevens December 12, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I’d like to agree with Gordon as we all want to know the truth. However, I feel Mike Hicks is correct to let laywers point the way first. Im sure all will become clear in due course-if not, then put pressure on to see the document. Also, Im sure its much more expensive to have lawyers making out 21 confidentiality agreements rather than 4- if its not necessary at this stage. Slowly slowly catchee monkee.

  9. Kev Wright December 12, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Personally I think it’s a disgrace that the report hasn’t been made public, especially considering the arguments, false accusations and rumours that have split the community.

    Keep at them Gordon, we paid for this and we should have a right to see it. Any parent of a child at the school should be told of the report’s findings straight away. It’s disgusting that they may never know. What are they hiding?