Provision For Legal Cases Might Be Needed Says Council

town hall 4The Council has said that it might need to make provision for two legal cases being brought against it. Members had previously been told that it wouldn’t be needed.

The statement was made in a report that was sent to the Council’s auditors, Grant Thornton, and obtained by Radio Scilly following a Freedom of Information request.

Under new rules, local authorities’ auditors can now request details of any legal, compliance or financial issues being dealt with during the year.

In April, a draft response from the Council to the auditors was presented to the Policy and Resources Committee.

This included a warning about “public interest” in the redundancy payments made to the former Chief Technical Officer and former Director of Finance, which will be disclosed for the first time in the Statement of Accounts for 2013/14.

It also advised the auditors that the Council faces two cases of legal action over alleged breaches of employment contracts.

But at the April meeting, the Chairman of Council Amanda Martin was unhappy that the report had been brought “at the last minute.”

She asked whether there was “room for tweaking” it after the meeting.

Members agreed, as long as there were no significant changes made.

ScillyToday asked twice for a copy of the final report sent to the auditors, but was denied. We finally obtained a copy earlier this month after submitting a Freedom of Information request.

The new report shows that the Council removed reference to any public interest in the payments to the former Senior Officers.

They’ve also altered their stance that “no contingent liability or provision” is required in relation to the open legal cases against it. They now feel that it may be needed in the future.

Any successful case brought against the Council could mean the financial award and legal costs having to come from its reserves.

However, the Council maintains that alleged breaches of data protection rules, currently being reviewed by the Information Commissioner, are unlikely to lead to financial penalties.

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