July 24 2014 Latest news:
by Jon Dean
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Islington Council has been accused of “sloppiness” after failing to keep records of a fraud investigation.
Last March the Gazette revealed Kier – a company with a multi-million pound contract with the town hall – had launched the investigation following an allegation about one of its employees working in the borough.
The council was quick to assure people no public cash was involved, but when the Gazette submitted an Freedom of Information (FOI) request, it admitted it “had no record of any phone calls, meetings, minutes of meetings, either internally or between Kier and Islington Council, regarding these allegations”.
It was alleged a senior employee in the company’s Islington branch had created a series of fake jobs to the tune of up to £1million.
Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of Islington’s opposition Lib Dem group, said: “How can the council be so sure it was nothing to do with them if it has no record and can’t produce any proof?
“It sounds like they never asked Kier, or at least they don’t have any written evidence that this was nothing to do with the council contract and public money.
“How was it done, word of mouth?
“Wouldn’t you want something in writing? I would.
“This is concerning in its own right – it’s unbelievably sloppy and raises more question than answers.”
In November – eight months after the allegations first came to light – a spokesman for Kier said: “Our investigation regarding an employee at our Islington contract has been concluded and we can confirm that we have found no evidence to support allegations of fraud concerning any public money.”
In June it was announced the council would use a break clause to tear up their 10-year, £150million contract with Kier to maintain the borough’s 30,000 council properties and bring the service back in-house – even though the move could end up costing the town hall up to £30million more.
Kier’s previous council deal, which was legitimate, came under fire for being a profit-sharing “sweetheart” deal which saw the company pocket £12million of taxpayers’ cash.
The council say the decision to bring the contract in- house was nothing to do with either matter.